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If you are a nurse in New York, then it’s vital you take steps to protect yourself from legal issues so that you can safeguard your career. No matter where you work, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit if a patient under your care becomes injured. Even if you do everything by the books and take great care of your patients, a single complaint is often enough to trigger an investigation into your past performance and treatment of patients. The best way to protect yourself from these problems is to stay current with all the laws related to your profession. You must also educate yourself on how to respond if you find yourself facing unfair legal action.
When you want to learn about the legal issues you might face and how to respond to them, taking the time to understand negligence is a great first step. You can be charged with negligence if you fail to tend to a patient who is under your care. If a current or former patient files a complaint, you will likely find yourself under investigation. Because the laws relating to negligence are often open to interpretation, it can be difficult to protect yourself from allegations. However, carefully monitoring the condition of each patient under your care can significantly reduce your odds of being found negligent. You must also check in with patients as often as you can so that you can tend to them as needed.
You can face medical malpractice charges if you attempt to treat a patient in a way that is outside of your standard of care when doing so results in the injury of that patient. If you find yourself is this situation, then you could be sued for any resulting damages. In severe cases, malpractice can be considered a criminal offense, and you could spend time in jail as a result. When your goal is to prevent yourself from facing a malpractice lawsuit, you must ensure you never attempt to perform a procedure or offer advice that is outside the scope of your training.
When most nurses think of documentation, they consider writing down a patient’s vital signs and noting any medication they might be taking, but this is not enough to protect you from facing possible legal action. It’s important you write down everything you can about each patient, including changes in their condition. If a supervisor or co-worker offers to fill in for you while you are on duty, make sure you write that down as well.
If something happens to the patient while you are gone but the records indicate you are the person responsible, you can still be held liable for the damages. If your statements are called into question at any point during an investigation, accurate records could be your only chance of winning your case.
No matter how small, you must take all allegations seriously so that you don’t get blindsided. Your first task is to contact a qualified lawyer right away so you can start building your defense. As the investigation progresses, you must avoid the temptation to talk about your situation to anyone, including friends and family. Saying one wrong word is enough to give the other side enough ammunition to find you at fault. Instead, stay quiet, go about your life as normal and let your lawyer prepare your case. If questioned by coworkers, avoid trying to defend yourself and refuse to comment.
Although many nurses like to believe a lawsuit would never happen to them, nobody is immune from legal problems. Staying proactive and taking great care of your patients is a great way to keep yourself safe. Sadly, no amount of vigilance can ensure you will never end up on the wrong side of a legal battle. Mistakes can be made, and your patients can misunderstand certain facts related to their treatment. Either way, your best option is to stay calm and allow a qualified lawyer to navigate these legal problems for you so that you can have the best possible odds of reaching your desired outcome.