Q: Should a critical care nurse who has no basic knowledge of and has not been trained to use a specific piece of technology accept responsibility for taking care of a patient who is dependent on the technological piece of equipment to survive a critical illness?

A: Denise Thornby, RN, MS, NEA-BC, replies:

No, not without the resources to allow the nurse to care for the patient competently. Both the individual nurse and the organization in which the nurse practices are accountable for ensuring that all patients are cared for by nurses who are well educated and competent. This obligation is especially important given the pace of newly introduced technology and interventions in highly vulnerable patients. These standards speak not only to knowledge but to competency. Competency is defined as having the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors to perform the required role function and is essential to providing safe care...

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