July 17, 2015 | | Comments 0
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Another way to avoid the legal hot seat

Keep certifications and trainings current

How often do you review staff certifications and trainings to make sure they’re current?


Now choose the best answer: continually, very frequently, or every week.

If certifications and trainings have lapsed and a patient is injured, those records become evidence against the hospital. And you will find yourself in the hot seat.

Let’s look at how expired certifications and unaddressed competencies can come home to roost. Imagine that your unit is sued in a wrongful death action after unsuccessful emergency resuscitation efforts. The attorney for the patient’s family discovers that one of the nurses working the code wasn’t current in CPR. That out-of-date certification raises doubts about the emergency resuscitation efforts provided to the patient.

Here’s how you (the nurse manager) can expect to be questioned in a deposition regarding the expired CPR card.

Attorney: For the record, will you please read your hospital’s policy and procedure regarding CPR certification?

You: (Reading) All direct care staff must be certified in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Direct care staff shall not provide patient care with an expired CPR certification.

Attorney: Did Nurse Smith have a current CPR certification on the evening of March 3, 2015, when the code was called for my client?

You: No.

Attorney: Is this a violation of your hospital’s policies and procedures?

You: Yes.

Attorney: Who is responsible for ensuring that CPR certifications are current on Nurse Smith’s unit?

You: The nurse manager.

Attorney: Are you the nurse manager for the unit?

You: Yes.

Attorney: Would you agree with me that you failed to ensure that Nurse Smith had a valid CPR certification on the date in question?

You: Yes.

In the Not My Job post a few weeks ago, we talked about the importance of keeping your employee’s job descriptions updated. Staying on top of required staff education and certifications is just as critical to minimizing your potential for legal hassles.

(Many thanks to Dinah Brothers, RN, JD, for this adaptation from her new book, The Nurse Manager’s Legal Companion.)


Dinah Brothers, RN, JD, is the author of The Essential Legal Handbook for Nurses (just released), sold as a set of 10 handbooks for staff nurses,  and The Nurse Manager’s Legal Companion (releasing in a few days), a book offering nurse managers guidance on everything from employment law to dealing with whistleblowers and everything in between.

Entry Information

Filed Under: LeadershipLegal issuesnurse educationNursing professional standardsPatient outcomesstaff development


About the Author: Claudette Moore is an acquisitions editor at HCPro, focusing primarily on nursing topics. She is always looking for new books that will create a better workplace for nurses and their managers, so contact her if you would like to publish with HCPro.

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