Q Are preceptors liable for a licensed orientee’s actions while they are acting in the preceptor role?
A The legal issue that is of concern here is that of “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability is defined as follows:
Vicarious liability simply means indirect responsibility for the acts and behavior of another. It is also called secondary liability or respondent superior.2 In other words, even though a nurse has no direct patient contact, provides no direct patient care, or is not involved in direct patient teaching, if that nurse is responsible for another nurse providing direct care, any act or behavior done by the nurse providing direct care is still the responsibility of the supervising nurse.
The information a preceptor provides in this role could conceivably lead to liability on the preceptor’s part. The scenario would be the following: a licensed orientee is involved in a negligent situation that causes an...