Nursing Malpractice?

I went to my first nursing research conference a couple of weeks ago. It was fascinating…and somewhat discouraging. The speakers kept talking about the need for leaders in nursing, advocates for best nursing practice. And I kept wanting to raise my hand and say “Haven’t you people heard of the Clinical Nurse Leader?” I came away from the conference knowing that we still have a ways to go in educating in our own colleagues about our role. Sometimes being on the front lines is exhausting.

But I was also left with an intriguing thought. One speaker in particular introduced the idea that when we aren’t using best practices, we are committing nursing malpractice. A bold statement to be sure, but something that also gave me pause.

Last week I questioned the levels of evidence we painstakingly learned in statistics and research classes. I touted the place of qualitative research. I even proposed that the placebo effect wasn’t always such a bad thing.

But when it comes to our practice as nurses, when it comes to the direct care we provide, are we not obligated to investigate what the research does say about the work we are doing? Are we not ethically and professionally responsible for knowing that the care we provide is indeed the best care? The conference speaker said the most important question we can keep asking is “Why?” Why do we do things the way we do them?

Malpractice is a strong, scary word. But if we’re not practicing to the fullest extent of our license and our nursing knowledge, I think the argument could be made.

What do you think? Is this opening a legal can of worms or do you think it’s a valid point?

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