NEW YORK NURSE: July/August 2010
Q.: Recently, a friend described some symptoms her husband was experiencing and asked me to examine him. I politely told her that he should make an appointment with his primary care provider as soon as possible. Could I be held liable if I inadvertently gave the wrong advice?
A.: As registered nurses, we are often asked by family and friends for our professional opinion. You need to be careful in today’s litigious society, however, especially if the person asking will likely do what you say. The courts take off-the-job professional advice very seriously and you could be implicated if you provide an inaccurate professional recommendation.
To minimize the risk of legal ramifications, follow these simple steps when someone asks for your professional opinion:
Source: Elder, C.R (1986). If a friend asks you for medical advice. RN, 49(8), 38-40.
This is a sample of the questions NYSNA’s experts answer each day. The advice given is specific for the situation described and may not be applicable generally. If you have questions about your own work setting, it is recommended that you contact your NYSNA nursing representative or the Education, Practice, and Research Program, 11 Cornell Road, Latham, New York 12110-1499 or call 800-724-NYRN, ext. 282.