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Describe The Laws And Strategies That Protect The Nurse From Litigation

Describe The Laws And Strategies That Protect The Nurse From Litigation


Being part of a lawsuit is an extremely stressful situation for any nurse. The litigation process may result in devastating damage to the self-concept of a nurse as well as a nurse to the practices. In the past, suing the doctor and the hospital were the usual manner to get relief for a lawsuit. However, the health care arena has witnessed the new order where nurses are now an integral part in the delivering of care to patients. The nurses have more responsibility and are more accountable for the actions of unlicensed and licensed staff. This position has increased autonomy and accountability. The limited resources and nursing shortages have proved to be a factor that has resulted to more and more nurses to be involved in medical related malpractice lawsuits. The above situation has led to the introduction of laws and measures of protecting them from litigation.

The Medical Malpractice Insurance Policy

In most of the states, the insurance companies representing the institution and independent nurses have key obligations under a medical malpractice policy which include the duty to indemnify and the duty to defend (Brooke, 2006). The defending duty expects the insurance company to higher a lawyer to defend any litigation against the institution or the nurse. The same duty also expects the insurance company to stand in for expenses associated with the defense. The indemnify duty expects the insurance company to settle some amount of money up to the policy limits for a judgment or settle on any claim against a nurse who is covered (Brooke, 2006).

What Is Expected From an Insured Nurse

In the case a nurse is accused of malpractice or negligence, for the nurse to be covered by an insurance company, the policy typically expects the nurse to provide the company with a prompt notice of any possible lawsuits or claims against the nurse. The insured nurse is also expected to report any cases in a time frame of within 30 days (Catalano, 2006). A failure of an insured nurse to give prompt notice may jeopardize the insurance obligations of the company either to indemnify or defend.

In Case of Trial

Before a trail, the nurse has to be well prepared to provide trial testimony through extensively reviewing the deposition of a  nurse, the medical records and other experts’ deposition and any plaintiffs. It is also advisable that the nurse has to be present at the attorney table during the trail. In addition, it is often challenging for nurses to be present through the trial to criticize the qualifications and actions of the nurse and follow the health care of the institution and professionals because of the limited time off duty (Catalano, 2006).


Nurses should be aware of the litigation process basics. As health care resources are becoming more and scarcer, patients tend to become angry more often, have unrealistic expectations or disappointed for their care. The nurses are hence advised to be prepared well in advance to respond in an appropriate manner in case of any litigation. The nurses have to be aware of the laws and measures that protect them and what is expected of them.






Brooke P., (2006). “So you’ve been named in a lawsuit: what happens next?”Nursing. 36(7):44-48.

Catalano J., (2006). Nursing Now! Today’s Issues. Philadelphia: FA Davis


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