As the practice of nursing continues to evolve, expanding clinical roles and applications of new technology have brought additional responsibilities and, concomitantly, increased risks of legal liability for the profession. This book was written to provide the nursing student, the professional nurse at any level of clinical practice—and collaborating health care providers—with an introduction to basic legal concepts and principles of malpractice, liability, and risk management. I believe that their more extensive incorporation into nursing education curriculums and application in clinical practice will enhance the professional growth, accountability, and recognition of the nursing profession. This is not a textbook on law, and I disclaim any intent to provide legal advice. That is the sole prerogative of an attorney.
In our litigious society, an increasing number of nurses are being named in malpractice lawsuits by patients turned plaintiffs. It is my hope that the knowledge and understanding of malpractice liability and risk management strategies will help to dispel many of the unwarranted fears and uncertainties prevalent in the nursing profession and mitigate the incidence and repercussions of malpractice lawsuits. For their own protection, and certainly for that of their patients, all nurses must be aware of their legal