Congratulations! You are now a Registered Nurse. All of your sacrificing, studying and suffering have paid off. Take some time to celebrate your success – you deserve it. However, now that you’ve received your nursing license, you have to start thinking about how to protect it.
Many State Boards of Nursing used send out publications with a list of nurses who lost their licenses and WHY they lost them. I can remember being a new nurse, reading those reasons and thinking that I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes. I don’t think they publish these lists anymore (do they??).
So, it’s important that you understand the reasons why nurses lose their license and what you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Protecting your license: Top 3
1. Administer medications correctly
Nurses have inadvertently caused serious harm and even patient deaths because they didn’t administer medications correctly. Nurses get distracted constantly leading to mistakes. Giving meds is a big-ticket item and requires your time and attention. When giving meds, stay focused.
Bottom line: NEVER give a medication unless you understand why your patient is getting it; if there are any labs or assessments you need to check before given it; how it is to be given (especially IV); and what you expect as a result.
2. Recognize changes in your patients and report them.
The quintessential gift nurses bring to the delivery of health care is our assessment. Assessing your patients is where you need to spend your time. Most legal action occurs when a patient deteriorates and either the nurse doesn’t recognize or the nurse documents the problem but fails to document action.
Bottom line: Assess your patients frequently – noting any change in condition. Communicate findings to the physician - no matter how subtle.
Bonus documentation tip: If you document that a patient complains of anything, then you MUST document what you did about it and what the outcome was. For example, “Patient complained of chest pain…..Dr. Rossi notified. SL Nitro given as per order. Pt states chest pain resolved.”
3. Follow policy and procedures
I’m a professional speaker and talk to nurses all over the country about creating a successful nursing practice. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked if nurses should get their own malpractice insurance. Here’s what you need to know: You are covered under your employer’s insurance IF you follow policy. If you don’t, you are on your own. If you don’t follow policy and you make a mistake that causes patient harm, you could lose your job AND your license.
Bottom line: Never do procedures if you’re not sure how to do them according to policy. It’s not enough just to ask another nurse. Know the policy. Ignorance isn’t a defense.
Now that you’ve got your license – keep it! These tips will help you to have a long and healthy career as a nurse.
Thanks so much for reading. If you find this blog helpful, please share it with your colleagues.
Thanks for becoming a nurse – I’m cheering for your success!
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