A nurse has the professional duty to provide proper care, treatment and comfort to the patients he cares for. Nurses have the responsibility of following code of ethics and the Nursing Practice Act. Some health care facilities have nurses that face legal issues because of lack of training, or rushed decisions. A nurse is to keep the patient's best interest in mind at all times, which will help avoid some of the professional issues that could arise potentially.
Patients' records are to be kept confidential at all times. When a nurse accesses the patient's records, the nurse is not to discuss the patient's conditions or any other confidential information with anyone not assigned to care for the patient. A physician may have access to the records, but a nurse should not photocopy for his own personal use, or share the information with family and friends.
A nurse is a professional liaison between the physician and the patient. If the patient has an adverse reaction to a medical procedure or medication, it is the responsibility of the nurse to locate a physician immediately. If the nurse fails to get help, or suggest another physician to care for the patient, the nurse is violating a code of ethics, and runs the risk of facing a malpractice suit, and losing his nursing license.
For nurses that administer medication it is imperative that they know how to administer such medication properly. Giving a patient too much or too little medication could cost the patient her life. If the nurse is unsure of how much medication to give a patient, he should consult a physician.
No nurse should assume a role or duty that he is unfamiliar with. In emergency cases, a nurse should find the nearest physician if the physician assigned to the area is unavailable. A physician must be always on call at health care facilities. Nurses have been trained and tested to perform specific duties, not for other jobs beyond their scope of training and responsibility. If a nurse attempts to do the duty of a physician, if done right, he can save a life. However, if done wrong, a life can be lost and the nurse and the health care facility can face legal consequences.
Nurses have to provide patients with basic care, which includes personal hygiene. It is illegal for nurses to ignore or neglect a patient. Aside from taking vital signs and administering medication, the nurse also is responsible for bathing the patient and escorting the patient to the bathroom if she needs assistance. It is illegal for nurses to allow patients to have accidents on themselves because of a lack of follow-through. It could not only result in a lawsuit, but cost the nurse his professional license.
When a patient is undergoing treatment, the nurse has the responsibility to explain in detail the treatment in its entirety. If the treatment requires surgery, the nurse will need the patient or the family member to sign a consent form. The consent form is a document that acknowledges everything the nurse or physician will do, the patient is fully aware of, including all risk and side effects. If the nurse does not have the patient or family member sign the consent form, legal issues could arise after the treatment takes place, especially if the results are negative.