Welcome to Module 3! This module lays the foundation for understanding the law and the judicial process by presenting an overview of the legal system, sources and types of law, and the role of the American court system. All of the aspects of the trial process are detailed, from initiation of the complaint to appeals, and the role of the nurse as an expert witness is highlighted. Standards of care are discussed from a legal and nursing perspective. Lastly, tort law is detailed, with an emphasis on the elements of negligence, malpractice, and intentional torts. Practical guidelines are presented for nurses practicing in all settings for preventing potential lawsuits in this area of the law. Possible legal defenses to nursing liability are explored, as well as how such defenses may lessen the individual practitionerâ€s potential legal liability.
The foundations of law and the judicial process were presented as a basis of understanding liability issues that have the potential to affect nurses and the health care organization. A basic understanding of the legal system, though complex, protects nurses against potential litigation while allowing them to be confident in the care they deliver. The legal system is a blend of rules and regulations, contains both federal and state laws, and may seem overwhelming at first glance. Understanding the court system allows nurses to appreciate the legal issues that impact the professional practice of nursing. This module provided an overview of the court system and the trial process, which have evolved to resolve disputes between two or more parties in an orderly and fair manner.
As described in this module, there are six steps to the trial process, all of which are important in the final outcome of a case. Nurses may be most involved as expert witnesses, presenting complicated facts and explaining standards of nursing care to judge and jury. Standards of care, derived from a variety of sources, are crucial to ensuring that patients are provided quality, competent nursing care, Standards of care form the basis of the professional duty owed to patients. Malpractice— negligence as it pertains to professionals — is the leading cause of lawsuits filed today in the medical arena.
All six elements of malpractice must be shown in court for the injured party to prevail. This module presented guidelines to prevent or lessen the possibility of malpractice suits being filed against health care providers. Lastly, this module explored defenses used by healthcare providers to justify or partially explain why they acted as they did. Defenses explored in this module included those against intentional, quasi-intentional, and negligent torts; statutes of limitations; and product liability. Used correctly, these defenses can lessen the individual practitionerâ€s potential liability.
Please respond to ONE of the following prompts.
Provide an illustrative example of a negligence suit that meets all of the required elements (using a hypothetical situation)
Which classifications of law are more commonly applied to professional nursing? From a current media source (e.g. Internet, newspaper article) describe a health-care related incident that depicts one of the classifications of law.
Grading Rubric: Content includes additional or novel points beyond the intent of the prompt. References are sufficient, scholarly in nature, and are formatted correctly in APA format.
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