As an emergency room nurse, you deal very much in the here and now. Your job — and patients’ lives — depend on your ability to quickly evaluate and assess patients’ needs and conditions accurately in a fast-paced, stressful environment.
You often won’t know much about those patients whom you are trying to save and heal, especially if they arrive in crisis and unconscious. Specifically, you won’t know their decisions regarding their being given emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) and CPR.
Could some emergency medical decisions come back to haunt you?
In an ideal circumstance, a coded patient would arrive at the ER clutching their Advanced Directive or Living Will in their hand. We live, however, in reality, and that’s just not likely. So, in most cases, ER nurses won’t have the luxury of time to determine their patient’s views on resuscitative efforts.
Doctors and nurses practicing emergency medicine all took courses in medical ethics and perhaps some others that touched on the legal ramifications for those in the medical profession. But let’s be clear – they are not legal scholars who know the intricacies of the law.
According to an article in the American Heart Association’s Journals, when patients’ capacity to consent to medical intervention is not present due to their medical crises, “it is prudent to give standard medical care.”
It is not a blanket protection
That opinion in no way covers all medico-legal scenarios wherein a nurse could find their license in jeopardy. Egregious medical errors that clearly breach medical standards can still put an honest and hardworking nurse’s license in real jeopardy.
If you are accused of any medical or ethical violation that could affect your nursing license, you must act swiftly and decisively to protect your rights.