Martin Chitwood on How To Stay Legally Protected With These 5 Practices

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Martin Chitwood, Scrubs Magazine’s resident attorney gives more tips on how to stay legally protected.

As a licensed professional, nurses have an ethical and legal responsibility to their patients. The standards you are held to are extremely high, and can get you into trouble legally if you don’t take steps to protect yourself. Aside from ensuring that you are always acting in the best interest of your patient, there are 5 steps you should always take that will assist in keeping you out of any legal hot water:

Get Signed Consent Forms

Anytime a procedure is ordered for a patient, they (or their authorized guardian) must sign a form that gives the practitioner consent. The consent form is a legal document stating that the patient:

  • Understands what the procedure is for, what it entails, and what the alternatives are
  • Has been given the opportunity to discuss this procedure with the physician or provider
  • Knows what the risks and the benefits of the procedure are
  • Is choosing to sign the forms

In the event that the patient does not want to give consent, there is a space on these forms designated for this as well. If you fail to have these forms signed, whether the procedure is performed or not, you may be held liable if harm comes to the patient as a result.

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Martin Chitwood


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