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This Month On Advocates for Nurses! - June Edition

I’m Advocate Maggie, aka the Nurse’s Advocate, and I’m so excited to finally launch Advocates for Nurses official blog! I’ve been asked to develop more and more content, so I’ve taken the time to create this. You can find nurse news, case reviews, and Q&As. After you’ve gotten your fill, check me out on my social media tagged at the bottom of every page. I try to respond as quickly as I can to everyone! I also offer a podcast that will summarize what's being discussed in the blog each month. The podcast includes my commentary, so you get extra nuggets of information. Here at Advocates for Nurses, I will help you better understand and ultimately navigate an ever-changing healthcare landscape. I will focus on providing you with some knowledge and basic tools and resources to help you to excel in your practice, while safeguarding your professional license. I will also delve into some nursing advocacy, empowering you to speak up for yourselves, your patients, and the future of nursing. 


For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been a nurse for 24 years. I've been all over the nursing map – critical care nursing, travel nursing, and now, legal nurse consulting and advocacy. I started as a nursing assistant with an associates and ended up with a masters in nursing leadership. I’ve spent the majority of my career in the hospitals, including ICU, ER, PACU, Cath Lab/EP/Structural Heart, Surgery Centers, and Free Standing ERs. I spent a majority of my later years as a traveling nurse, and then transitioned into being an investigator for the Board of Nursing and legal nurse expert witness. All of these amazing experiences have shown me the true abilities of nurses and have built my humility towards the nurses I’ve had the honor of standing next to. 


Knowledge is power, so let me help you learn! If you are a nurse seeking to elevate your skills, safeguard your license, and become a stronger advocate for yourself and your patients, you've come to the right place! I'm dedicated to empowering and advocating for you and our profession. My motto is “nurse love, tough love.” I believe in fostering a supportive community. As I always say, "I'm not called to nursing, I'm called to nurses." Together, we are 5 million strong. I know we can and will make a real difference.


This Month's Highlights:

Each month there will be a brief overview on what I will be discussing. Lets go over this month's theme, so you have a better understanding of what to expect. Feedback, comments and support are always welcome about what topics we should be covering, so don’t be shy.


This month is CPR/AED awareness month. Why is this important? These essential skills can mean the difference between life and death, and your failure to respond or initiate basic life saving measures could place you in legal trouble. It is essential to be comfortable with your life saving skills. That’s why I want to introduce you all to my incredible peer Dr. Susan Davis, DNP, the force behind CODE PREP. She is a tireless advocate for nurses and our resuscitation education. This month there should be a focus on sharpening your life-saving skills which is a priority not only to our patients but ultimately our license. 


June is a month packed with celebration, Including National Nursing Assistant Week (June 10th-17th). We are showering admiration on our phenomenal Nursing Assistants. Please remember that basic human care is often delegated to these essential team members, and not providing basic ADL’s (activities of daily living) is a form of negligence. We rely heavily on our beloved nursing assistants and technicians. They are essential parts of our team. These dedicated individuals are the heart and soul of patient care. Let's make sure they feel appreciated throughout the month.


June is also Pride Month.  At Advocates for Nurses, we recognize the importance of supporting and acknowledging the diversity within our healthcare community. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment where all patients and medical staff feel respected and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Let's join together to promote acceptance and understanding, fostering a workplace culture that embraces diversity and strengthens our collective bond. This will create better healthcare for everyone.


Advocates for Nurses is about more than just the clinical side of things. I'll be dropping nuggets of knowledge and resources you need to be the best nurse you can be, but we also discuss things going on in the nurse world, share stories, and encourage each other.


Did you know? You are legally responsible for your actions during a resuscitation, even if you do not hold a valid CPR/AED card. That includes nurses, CNAs, and all personnel wearing a badge and calling themselves a healthcare provider. We all need to be trained in CPR/AED and ready to act. Failure to do so can be seen as a form of negligence. Let's dive into individual responsibility – a critical aspect of being a healthcare provider.


Legal and Moral Responsibility of Nurses

As nurses, we often wonder about our responsibilities when we're off-duty. I’m often asked, “can we be sued as healthcare providers even if we are off duty?” This is a great question. Good Samaritan laws protect those who provide aid in emergencies, typically covering two groups: passers-by who do not help (usually not liable) and those who assist but fail to save the victim or cause unintentional harm (protected if they acted in good faith). Unless the person in distress is a pre-established patient (creating a nurse - patient relationship and a duty), we are generally not legally required to provide emergency aid outside our work environment. This was evident in a real case where a nurse and a doctor, voluntarily staffing a first-aid tent at a festival, were not held legally responsible for not assisting a person with a life-threatening allergic reaction.


Morally and ethically, most nurses feel a strong sense of duty to help in emergencies, driven by compassion and our commitment to care. These moral responsibilities often guide us to act, even off the clock. While our hearts may lead us to assist, it's crucial to be aware of our legal protections and obligations when doing so. Knowing the Good Samaritan laws in your state and investing in insurance tailored for nurses can help protect you from potential claims.


Own Your Skills:

Obtaining the certification for CPR is merely the first step in your competency. Having the ability to take what you learned and use it in your environment, with your equipment - AED, is the true test of your competency. Asking for what you need in order to maintain the ability to confidently use the skills with the equipment in your work environment should always be a priority. 

TIPS:  

  • Certification/Certificate: Having a valid CPR/AED certification states that you have taken the training and you are able to meet that standard in a court of law.  Test yourself.  Do you know where your AED and or crashcart is located?  Are you able to utilize the resources in your environment to successfully administer basic life support, meaning chest compression and the use of the AED? That is your duty. Ask for what you need, including tools like CODE PREP. I highly encourage everyone to follow Dr. Davis and ensure her program is implemented in your organization.

  • Your Scope: It’s within everyone’s scope of practice to provide basic life saving measures that we call CPR, and everyone who is certified is held to that standard in a court of law. It is negligent not to initiate CPR as a healthcare provider having an active certificate and can be seen as a failure to respond. It’s everyone's duty to initiate life saving measures and call for help. We are bound by our duty as professionals who hold a license to do so.  

  • Document Clearly: Record all your actions during/after a code. Use the approved form within your organization or in the EHR (electronic health record). Include who was present and what transpired, and any details you can remember. It’s our duty to maintain accurate medical records as the chart does not belong to us or the patient, but to the organization. This record could be crucial legally to defend you or the organization. It’s our duty defined under the rules and regulations that dictate our professional practice to maintain the medical record.  

  • Example: TEXAS NURSE PRACTICE ACT: STANDARDS OF NURSING PRACTICE §217.11(1)(D) Accurately and completely report and document:

      (i) the client's status including signs and symptoms;

      (ii) nursing care rendered;

      (iii) physician, dentist or podiatrist orders;

      (iv) administration of medications and treatments;

      (v) client response(s); and

      (vi) contacts with other health care team members concerning significant events regarding client's status;

    (E) Respect the client's right to privacy by protecting confidential information unless required or allowed by law to disclose the information;


Level Up Your Skills & Stay Informed:

As a critical care nurse with 24 years of experience, I am well aware of how scary it can be to start chest compressions and bag a patient. Let me give you some real life tips to stay up to date and comfortable with CPR/AED training.

  Keep your training up to date. Seek out the educator in your area and familiarize yourself with your equipment. We all should introduce ourselves to our workplace and ensure we know where the emergency tools and resources are located. We need to routinely practice how to utilize them to their fullest ability.


I promise you are not alone, evidenced by Dr. Susan Davis’s rescue tour, which you can view on her website!  She often speaks on the intensity of our responsibilities and how to handle them. Reach out to Susan Davis, Rescue RN. She is one of the most approachable people you will ever meet!  She can help your organization set up what they need to ensure that you are trained and competent to utilize your equipment. She works with everyone, from the housekeeper to the CFO. Let her help your organization protect themselves legally and prepare the entire staff to save lives! With her real life insights and confidence, she has created a beautiful system to elevate healthcare.


Looking for More Resources? I Got You Covered!

Remember my fellow nurses and healthcare providers that Advocates For Nurses is your one-stop shop for empowering your nursing journey:

Stay tuned for more advocacy tips, resources, and case reviews! And always remember, you've got a friend and advocate in Maggie Ortiz, RN, MSN!


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