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March 2004, Volume 34 Number 3 , p 14 - 14



© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 34(3)             March 2004             p 14 Unwritten policy pitfalls [ADVICE, P.R.N.: LEGAL LIABILITY]

As a nurse in a rehabilitation unit, I'm worried about our casual practice of sending patients home on a temporary pass. Patients in the unit often go home at their request without a written order, even though we have no written policy defining criteria for this practice. Most of our patients need medication, so nurses give them what they'll need to take while they're gone. I'm starting to worry about my liability if something happens to a patient while she's at home. What do you think? —A.B., MISS.

We think you're right to worry. When you let patients leave without written orders, you expose yourself to potential civil liability for malpractice. And when you dispense drugs, you jeopardize your license and expose ...

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