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Nurses, like all healthcare professionals, have to deal with various legal aspects in their line of work. A nurse can provide services to the best of their abilities but may still come up short. Complaints from patients are some of the biggest worries that nursing professionals have to encounter. A portion of these claims can lead to serious legal issues such as medical malpractice or negligence suits. Such cases can ruin the reputation and career of an individual. For that reason, nurses who find themselves in legal situations should seek expert help. Lawyers who specialize in nursing professionals are the best sources of assistance.
Know Your Rights
Patients, their family or friends can make official complaints to the administration of a hospital or the Board of Nursing. When this happens, certain protocols apply. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that the accused gets a fair hearing and investigation. However, not a lot of nurses understand their rights when it comes to handling complaints made to a regulatory body. You may end up aggravating the situation by going about the whole thing blindly. Healthcare lawyers have a unique take on dealing with such cases.
One of the most common pitfalls that nurses under investigation get into is making statements to an investigator, the hospital administration, or BON without representation. That first statement will sway the direction of your case almost instantly. Whether written or spoken, it will be used in an official capacity when determining your guilt or its lack of. It may appear as if talking displays your willingness to corporate but it may actually turn out worse.
The authorities have the responsibility of making a case with sufficient proof, which they may not have. Making hasty statements simplifies the case for them. For example, you may inadvertently admit a fact that could not be proven, like say, if you provided treatment to a particular patient. With an attorney guiding your moves, you can ensure that all your testimonies favor your case. A lawyer guides you on what to say and what not to when under investigation.
The Need for Negotiations
The consequences of patient complaints are hard to measure and can range from disciplinary actions to suspension to license revocation. Having the right legal representation changes everything. It may be the line between losing your license and being found innocent. A lawyer who has an excellent knowledge of healthcare can help you negotiate a lenient punishment if found guilty. For instance, an attorney can argue for probation instead of a suspension. Such a move can save your career.
Another reason a lawyer would be useful is that different states have varying regulations for nursing professionals. For example, legally, in New York, an institution is liable for the actions of an employee. However, this is conditional on the fact that the conduct was foreseeable and that the practitioner was working within their employment duties. So, if a nurse went out to see a friend on their off day and then gave the wrong prescription or made a misdiagnosis, it may be complicated because she/he was not fulfilling the hospital’s duties.
In a case where the employer has some liability, a nurse would be better off getting their own lawyer. The attorney that an institution provides will work for it first, and that means your needs are second. If it serves the hospital to throw you under a malpractice or medical negligence bus, then you are doomed. Retaining your own counsel ensures that you have a professional looking out for your wellbeing.
The type of nurse you are may also influence how your case goes. The scope of your responsibilities at a certain institution will determine the level of liability. You may have been conducting duties that don’t fall into your job description may be because there are staffing issues. A myriad of other extenuating circumstances may change the course of your case. Let a qualified attorney analyze all the facts and advice you on the best defense.
Cases, where nurses are named defendants, have increased significantly over the years. The punishments are also stiffer what with the courts holding professionals to very high medical standards of care. Hiring a healthcare lawyer is the way to ensure that you don’t end up disintegrating your career with legal complaints.