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April 2012, Volume 42 Number 4 , p 12 - 13


  • Penny Simpson Brooke JD, MS, APRN


I heard recently that if you're a -defendant in a nursing malpractice suit, even if the case is settled, you'll be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and may be separately investigated by your state board of nursing (BON) as a result. Is this true?-G.N., IOWA.If a nurse is named as a defendant in a malpractice suit that's settled or goes to trial, the outcome of the suit is reported to the NPDB. State BONs and hospital credentialing committees -review the NPDB reports regularly to identify practitioners, including nurses, who practice in their state or -facility or who are applying for a license or employment. The database was created to allow licensing bodies and employers to make informed decisions about the people practicing under their authority.If a practitioner is moving around the country and leaving a trail of malpractice cases that have been filed with the NPDB, a potential employer or state BON will have the information they need to decide whether this practitioner presents a risk to patient safety. The state BON may decide to conduct its own investigation following the -closure of a malpractice suit that named a nurse licensed in that state. The BON may place conditions on the nurse's practice in order for the nurse to -retain her license, and-if its investigation raises grave concerns about the nurse's behavior-may even suspend or revoke the nurse's license. State BONs conduct these investigations with the safety of the public in mind.An unresponsive adult was -admitted to the unit with severe multiple trauma. She needed blood transfusions, but for -religious reasons, the family was -adamantly against it. We were told there was no advance directive or durable power of attorney for healthcare for this patient, so we had no idea what her wishes were. Ultimately, we did administer blood to save her life.Now the family is threatening to sue the hospital and everybody involved. Are we in legal trouble or did we do the right thing for our patient?-S.L.,

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