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Nursing’s intersection with the law remains amid change

Nursing has undergone many changes from its early beginnings, but one change that has stood the test of time is the profession’s relationship with society as a whole and its members as individuals.

Since the time when Florence Nightingale provided care to Crimean soldiers to when one of the American Nurses Association publications embraced the concept that nursing has a “social contract and social covenant” with society with resulting expectations from the patient, the family and the community as a whole, nurses continue to affect and shape their practice.

One factor that has affected nursing’s relationship with society is its intersection with the law.

Law and nursing have been intertwined since Florence Nightingale as well. In 1859, she spoke clearly about a nurse’s responsibility to patients.

Unfortunately, it took many years for the profession and society to cultivate this foundation. Even so, there is no question that nursing has evolved into an accountable, responsible and legally knowledgeable profession. Nursing’s foundation clearly includes its ethical and legal obligations to the patient. Like nursing’s social contract with society, its legal contract with society also results in mutual expectations from both.

I have been fortunate for more than 30 years to be involved in representing nurses in various legal proceedings. Since 2002, I have also been privileged to interact with nurses in Brent’s Law as they continued to learn about the importance of the law in their everyday practice.

Now, Brent’s Law is experiencing a change as well. The question-and-answer format is giving way to a new blog format. I will continue responding to questions you submit, or I may post something I would like to share about a particular development dealing with the law and nursing or an interesting case involving nursing.

In either event, this is an exciting and interesting change, and I hope you will take advantage of the new format by reading, submitting questions or responses, and sharing it with your nurse colleagues.

The law will continue its interconnection with nursing. So we will also persist in exploring and analyzing old, new and ever-present changing legal issues nurses face or are interested in, whether in your practice, your educational experiences or another aspect of your nursing profession.

Brent’s Law has changed a tad but its essence remains the same.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Note: Nancy Brent’s posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice.

By | 2015-10-05T17:49:12-04:00 October 7th, 2015|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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