Legal Issues in Nursing

The patient’s chart indicated that she had serious difficulty with her balance which made it necessary for her to have assistance when standing or walking with a walker and when transferring. She had fallen backward six days earlier, but was caught and lowered to the floor without injury. She was afraid of falling and needed not only physical assistance, but also encouragement to take steps forward with her walker.

According to the court, the student nurse had read the patient’s chart and knew the patient had weakness and an unsteady gait. Nevertheless, the student nurse helped her up from the commode, then walked away and left the patient standing with her walker in the bathroom, while the student nurse propped the door hinge open and adjusted her wheelchair, expecting the patient to walk to the wheelchair on her own. The patient took a step forward, fell backward and was injured.


Legal Issues in Nursing

Read the legal case studies. As a nurse, you may encounter similar situations someday.

1.Should this case have reached the courts? Why or why not?

2.Was there an error in judgment on the part of the nurse? If so, what should have been considered or done differently? If not, why not?

3.Who, ultimately, is responsible for what happened?

4.Justify your answers using legal guidelines that you have learned in school.

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