An important principle to live by in avoiding malpractice lawsuits is sharing the legal responsibility whenever possible. Nursing decisions are made every day by nurses in regards to patient care. In most instances, these patient care decisions are based on each nurse’s professional experience and judgment; for example, when a blood pressure reading is beyond the normal range for a patient and the nurse, in most cases, decides how to respond and treat this phenomenon without consulting a colleague or physician.

However, in certain situations it is imperative to share the legal responsibility. For example, a patient takes a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse in a cardiac unit. It is necessary to immediately inform the physician of this change; however, the physician is unavailable or does not return a page or phone call. Does the nurse just...

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