Taking Stock of This Year

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Avoiding Liability Bulletin – December 15, 2012

It hardly seems possible that another year is about to be over.  And, what a year it has been!  The world seems to be in a bit of a mess and positive outcomes for all of its problems seem far, far away. The problems of too many wars, of people and governmental representatives not getting along, too much violence, and too little compassion for others are just a few of those problems.

It’s pretty easy to be pessimistic about our world today and to feel helpless to do much about changing the things that need to be changed. Even so, there is something to be optimistic about, and that is nursing and its continuing survival and contribution to those who need nursing care.

Without nurses, to whom would people who are ill, people who need direction and consultation about health care issues, people who need a comforting listener to hear their concerns and problems, turn?  There are few realistic alternatives, at least in my view.

In this season of being thankful and giving thanks, you as a nurse should take stock of the major contributions you have made to those you have cared for throughout this year.  You should feel proud that amidst all the trials and tribulations of the world, and of the delivery of health care generally, you have made a difference in many, many peoples’ lives.

One way in which you have made this contribution is by providing good, non-negligent nursing care.  True, avoiding professional liability is a great thing for you, you say, so what is the big deal?

The big deal is that by avoiding professional liability through the provision of competent nursing care, you have given your patients the gift of a return to health, another chance to see a child grow-up, an opportunity to live out one’s “golden years” with joy, and another chance to live a healthful, full life.  And, when your interventions did not succeed in providing your patients with a healthy return to their respective lives, you cared for them and stayed with them so they were not alone at the end of their journey in this world.

So, in this Holiday Season, with the approaching New Year almost here, I applaud each and every one of you and your efforts to provide quality care and to continue to practice your profession with compassion, honesty and integrity. Thank you for all you have done.  Keep it up next year as well, since avoiding professional liability and providing quality nursing care, consistent with standards of practice, is nursing at its best and a worthy New Year’s resolution as well.

Please accept my wishes to each and every one of you for a Happy Holiday Season and a Healthy and Peaceful New Year.

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Nancy Brent

Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, a nurse attorney in private law practice in Wilmette, IL, represents nurses and other health care providers before the state agency that regulates health professionals. Brent graduated from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 1981. Her experience prior to opening her private practice included a year of insurance defense for a major insurance company and establishing a law firm with two other attorneys. After three years of doing defense work at the firm, Brent decided to establish a private practice in 1986. Brent has published extensively and has lectured across the country in the area of law and nursing practice. She is a member of several legal and nursing professional associations, including the American Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, the Illinois State Bar Association, and The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA).

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