best practices for legal compliance in nursing

The demands on nurses today are impossible to ignore. Many issues, including the critical nursing shortage, have been simmering in the background for decades, only to be exacerbated by recent events. This shortage strains the existing workforce and magnifies the risks of legal non-compliance due to overburdening and potential lapses in patient care standards.

We’ll explore various aspects of compliance in nursing and how to ensure staff compliance.

What is Compliance in Nursing?

Nurses have many responsibilities to their patients and healthcare provider employers, translating to a need for legal compliance.

Legal compliance in nursing refers to observing and adhering to laws, regulations, and ethical standards that guide and govern the nursing practice. Compliance is vital for ensuring patient safety, protecting nurse’s rights and reputations, and maintaining the integrity of their respective healthcare organization.

Here are some key aspects of ethical, practical, and legal compliance in nursing.

State and Federal Laws

Nurses are bound by and must comply with the healthcare laws and regulations at both state and federal levels.

The primary regulation of nurses is the Nurse Practice Act. This Act varies by state and outlines the scope of nursing practice, requirements for licensure, and standards for professional conduct.

Hospital Policies and Procedures

All hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices have standard policies and procedures, and nurses must agree to and comply with them. The typical purpose of policies and procedures is to comply with legal and regulatory standards, ensuring consistent and high-quality patient care.

Patient Rights and Privacy

Patients are placed in vulnerable positions the moment they interact with a healthcare provider. Not because healthcare providers mean harm; it has more to do with risk factors outside their control to a great degree, such as data breaches that may gain access to their protected health information (PHI).

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was designed to account for each patient’s rights, protect patient privacy, and ensure PHI’s confidentiality. Given that HIPAA violations incur steep fines and penalties, nurses must comply with this regulation.

Medication Administration and Management

Nurses are most often the primary caregiver and the final party checking to see if a patient’s medication is correct, and they are responsible for properly handling, administering, and documenting medications.

This facet of nursing, in particular, is a critical area of legal compliance, given the high risks associated with medication errors and the potential for theft or misuse of pharmaceuticals in a hospital environment by other staff or patients.

Additional Legal Compliance Considerations for Nurses

Nurses have a great deal of responsibility in health systems beyond those listed above. There are a few more to add to the list:

  • Accurate and timely documentation of charts and other written reports
  • Professional and ethical standards, such as those set forth by the American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • Ethical standards that guide nurses in making the right and best decisions in their nursing practice
  • Continuing education and licensure that ensure that nurses maintain competencies through ongoing education
  • Reporting and responding to incidents, such as accidents, errors in medication, or patient neglect, abuse, or any other unsafe nursing or medical practices

4 Best Practices for Legal Compliance in Nursing

Knowing the expectations of today’s nurses, it’s easier to understand the best practices for this vital industry.

Here are our four best practices for legal compliance in nursing:

  1. Create strategies for managing stress and emotional toll while maintaining compliance
  2. Encourage continuous education and remind nurses of the high value of staying updated with nursing and healthcare laws and regulations
  3. Discuss the crucial role of effective communication in legal compliance and maintain that communication
  4. Build a supportive work environment and culture of compliance for your nursing staff

Does Your Healthcare Organization Need Support in Legal Compliance in Nursing?

Your nursing staff is the lifeblood of your operations. It’s important to help them stay protected by taking the required steps to ensure staff compliance in nursing, providing them with the most critical information, updated laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.

Our compliance solutions can help you and your nurses stay compliant while focusing on patient care.

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