Performing to the "minimum standard of care"

Nurses General Nursing


This is something that has always bothered me--both in clinical practice, and in doing case reviews as a legal nurse consultant--

Why is meeting "the minimum standard of care" good enough for some nurses and nurse managers?

When did nurses become so complacent that to perform to anyone's "minimum" standards is acceptable?

I think we all set higher standards for ourselves, or we should--these are human lives, and they deserve better than the minimum mandated by--who? Who was it that came up with the "minimum standard of care?" Various state nursing boards?

I see so many cases of what I--personally, as a nurse-- would consider nursing negligence that, legally, do not meet the criteria--because the nurse in question met the "minimal" standard of care. As a legal nurse consultant, I know that a charge of negligence won't fly, and the nurse will be back in practice--doing little more than what she has always done--"the minimum."

I hav worked in operating rooms where some people could only meet "the minimimum" requirements that allowed them to be there--what do you think this did to the morale of the people that set much higher standards for themselves, and as a result had to do all the really difficult and challenging cases--while the folks who performed to "the minimum"--with the blessing of management--got the easy, kick-back no-brainer cases day after day, so that they couldn't hurt anybody--come to think of it, maybe they were smarter than we were--they got paid the same, but didn't have to work very hard, or THINK...

I would really like to hear input on this--but please, let's not bring up the old "AA vs. BSN" argument here---it's been done to death, and entry level practice nursing errors are not what I am referring to--I am referring to errors, complacency and incompetence made by seasoned RNs who should know better--

At deposition, one cannot ask a nurse whose care appears to have been negligent if said care would be "good enough" if the patient in question was one of her own family-- sometimes I think it should be allowed--because we all know that, if she is honest, she would have to admit that it was not acceptable, whether it met the "minimum standard" or not--and the case would be over then and there--settled in favor of the plaintiff-because a jury that heard this admission from a nurse would be outraged, and rightfully so.

What say you all?


780 Posts

It is like the Peter Principle. The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

Reminds me of the "dumbing down" in the educational arena. it's pervasive and troubling, to say the least. People often just aim for the lowest common denominator and sit there and stagnate. Sad.

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