When the nurse disagrees with the doctor

The New York Times, October 14, 2010

Obviously, doctors and nurses have different roles in the hospital. Our training is different, and so are our responsibilities. It’s also true that patients choose their doctor and only end up with a particular nurse through the luck of the draw. But when a doctor and a nurse disagree over patient care, should the doctor always prevail?

Many of the nurses I know could share their own, dramatic stories of rescuing patients or catching frightening errors by other health care workers, including doctors. In fact, the same day the doctor cornered me at the nursing station, I had caught a potentially risky medication prescribing error by a doctor in training. I took my care question to a clinical pharmacist and the attending physician to insure that my patient was given the right treatment. Nurses don’t have the power to make certain types of care decisions, but they do have the power -– and the responsibility — to go up the ladder until they are satisfied that good decisions are being made.

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1 comments on "When the nurse disagrees with the doctor"

june levine (10/15/2010 at 12:25 PM)
I applaud your advocacy. I myself have done what you have done both as a clinical nurse and as an administrative nurse. Nursing schools do not help staff to fully understand the contributions that they must and can make to patient care, nor do nursing leaders advocate this type of intervention by their staff. I am giving a lecture on nursing ethics in a few weeks. I tell stories at the beginning that have no initial answers. I am going to use yours. Thanks for writing this up June Levine RN MSN




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