Charge nurse assisting in ER...

  1. Hi, this is my first time to this board...what a great site!

    I am a charge nurse at a very small rural hospital. Our ER is staffed with one RN and a second RN to float between the ER and the ICU (one RN staffed in ICU as well). When it gets hairy in the ER, I am often called to assist. My training down there is very limited. Granted, I've assisted down there quite often in the past year...I have learned a lot! Usually, when the department is busy, I help by running for supplies, assisting with minor procedures, or checking in patients with minor complaints (colds, minor lacerations, etc.)

    Last night, I was called to assist in ER. The float nurse was out on a transer so we were short staffed to start. The ER nurse had apparently stated she felt comfortable with the situation since she knew I was her back up.

    Anyways, the ambulance came in with what was initially a R/O MI. Upon arrival, his condition was stable. He was a alert, talking, but having occasional "trance-like" unresponosive episodes. Neuro checks were unremarkable, except for the occasional unresponsive episodes. The paramedics were questioning the patient's condition, as he was fine when the wife was gone, but episodes would recurr when she reappeared (small town, everyone knows everyone, strange situation.)

    Anyway, the ER nurse was discharging a patient, so I proceeded to put him on the monitor and begin the assessment. The Dr. and the ER nurse were there within minutes to assist and remained there throughout the patient's stay.

    To help the ER nurse, I began charting on the patient's chart. To make a long story short, the patient eventually crashed and was transferred to the closest trauma center. At the end of the situation, I sat down with the ER nurse to help finish the charting and sort out the sequence of events. As it turned out, I proceeded to finish charting on the ER record (we were working on it together, her helping me with rythm identificaion, etc.) while she completed the code blue report and records.

    Looking back, *I* was the one who did all the charting on the ER record, even though I was NOT the primary RN on this patient. Now I'm concerened that should something happen to this patient, should family decide to sue (although I have no reason to believe this at present...but you never know!) *I* am going to be perceived as the primary RN. The ER nurse DID cosign the chart, but still.

    Now I have this sick nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wondered if anyone here might have more insight or info on situations like this?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have!
    Last edit by Mother of Hope on Oct 5, '01
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    About Mother of Hope

    Joined: Oct '01; Posts: 4


  3. by   Talino
    This may not be your first and only worry about a litigation. This link provides a good advice from one of the contributors of this BB...

  4. by   Mother of Hope
    Have been off-line a few days.

    I'm going to a work-shop tomorrow on legal issues in nursing documentation and malpractice suits in nursing. I think it'll be interesting!

    Thanks again!
  5. by   Dave123
    Well when it gets ugly, chart documentation usually is the last thing we take care of and usually (I know its wrong) we just document what happened regardless of who did it. If someone else started the IV or hung the drip, I just document it as being done and sign my name. Of course this depends on "who" was invovled.

    Could I / we be sued, sure. But the reality is if you were there, you will be there in court also. I do not ignore the legal issues and I do practice CYA, but I don't worry about it either.

    Just my opinion