LegalPad From the 8/05 issue of Update for Nurses
Negligence occurs when a nurse fails to follow the "standard of care." Although nurses often use this term to describe their normal practice, this term has a very specific legal meaning.
The legal definition of "standard of care" is the basic level of care that is required of a reasonable and prudent nurse in similar situations. It is not the highest level of care, and it is not a regional or hospital specific standard.
The standard of care is a national standard. Therefore, your care will be compared to that of other nurses nationally. In other words, it is not OK to say "that's the way we've always done it." If national standards and guidelines exist, your care will be compared to them. So, even following your hospital policies and procedures will not avoid negligence, because they may be deemed as below the national standard of
care as well.
The best way to maintain a practice that meets the standard of care is to keep up to date using national resources and to become involved in hospital policy reviews to assure that you are practicing at a level that meets current standards.