Malpractice and State Nursing Boards

Elements of malpractice and negligence in reference to nursing practice

In general terms, malpractice denotes negligence in the way the medical personnel’s actions (or lack of them) inflict harm on the patient. The damage can be emotional, physical, or financial (Meehan, 2011). Malpractice is commonly associated with medical doctors’ misconduct, although nursing specialists, physicians, and other professionals can cause damage as well.

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Before the malpractice case, if filed, four elements must be satisfied. These include duty, the breach of duty, damage, and cause. The duty of a medical practitioner is the standard on which their practice is based. The breach of this duty is how the practice was misconducted. The damage is, basically, the harm caused to the patient by the practitioner’s action or non-action. The harm must be proved to be caused by the practitioner, otherwise, the file is invalid (Meehan, 2011).

State boards of nursing as applied to education, practice, and discipline

State boards are government-run agencies that perform regulatory functions in relation to nursing practice. The Boards of Nursing (BONs) were institutionalized to oversee that the practices are safe and thus cater to public well-being (About Boards of Nursing, n.d.). The BONs typically fall within the ambit of the Governor of the State and the state agencies.

The powers and duties of BONs include the enforcement of the Nurse Practice Act, licensing, accreditation, and approval of the education programs in educational establishments, development of standards for practice, policymaking, administration, and regulation (About Boards of Nursing, n.d.). These functions are applicable to the education and practice domains of nursing. As for the discipline, the BONs have a function of investigating complaints and apply disciplinary measures if malpractice is proved.

Malpractice and Negligence in Nursing

Malpractice and negligence are legal terms that apply to nurses as well as other medical specialists in any field. When a nurse’s actions deviate from what a reasonable person would do under similar conditions, these actions are malpractice (Grant & Ballard, 2013). However, to determine if the nurse truly committed malpractice, the plaintiffs (the ones who complain) should prove some points. The first one is the nurse’s duty, or what they should have done according to their practice standards. The second point is the fact that this duty was not carried out properly. Thirdly, the nurse’s failure must be proved to be the “proximate cause” of the harm (Grant & Ballard, 2013, p. 31). Finally, the plaintiff should prove that the nurse’s actions caused damage, either to the plaintiff’s well-being or finance.

State Boards of Nursing

The State Boards of Nursing are agencies controlled by the government. They are in charge of regulating nursing practice to ensure it is safe for the public. There are several functions of Boards of Nursing that regulate education, practice, and discipline. Firstly, the Boards have a duty to accredit and implement nursing education programs (Roles of State Boards of Nursing: Licensure, Regulation and Complaint Investigation, 2012).

Secondly, they are responsible for the interpretation and implementation of practice acts, which are the laws and responsibilities defining how the nurses should function. The Boards’ task is also to ensure the nurses are compliant with these acts. Finally, the Boards develop policies and administer the nurses’ practices. This includes hearing complaint cases and questioning the licensure of a nurse known to be negligent. The American Nurse association has often supported slandered nurses and ruled the cases to their favor.

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About Boards of Nursing. (n.d.). Web.

Grant, P. D., & Ballard, D. (2013). Fast Facts About Nursing and the Law: Law for Nurses in a Nutshell. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Meehan, M. J. (2011). Legal Considerations. In D. E. Beck, P. L. Roberts, T. J. Saclarides, A. J. Senagore, M. J. Stamos, & Y. Nasseri (Eds.), The ASCRS Textbook of Colon and Rectal Surgery (pp. 883-892). New York, NY: Springer Science.

Roles of State Boards of Nursing: Licensure, Regulation and Complaint Investigation. (2012). Web.

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