Criminal Prosecution for Nursing Practice

Criminal Prosecution for Nursing Practice

Read the following
case study and submit a 1- to 2-page essay in a Microsoft Word document
using APA 6th edition in response to the questions.

Case Study:

recently, the risk of criminal prosecution for nursing practice was
nonexistent unless nursing action rose to the level of criminal intent,
such as the case of euthanasia leading to murder charges. However, in
April 1997, three nurses at the Centura St. Anthony Hospital, outside of
Denver, were indicted by a Colorado grand jury for criminally negligent
homicide in the death of a newborn. Public records show that one nurse
was assigned to care for the baby. A second nurse offered to assist her
colleague in caring for the baby. A third nurse was a nurse practitioner
in the hospital nursery. Because the baby was at risk for congenital
syphilis, the physician ordered that the nurses give 150,000 units of
intramuscular penicillin, which would have required five separate

In relation to other problems the same day, the baby
was subjected to a lumbar puncture, which required six painful attempts.
To avoid inflicting further pain, nurse two asked the nurse
practitioner whether there was another route available for the
administration of the penicillin. Nurse two and the nurse practitioner
searched recognized pharmacology references and determined that
intravenous administration would be acceptable. The nurse practitioner
had the authority to change the route and directed nurse two to
administer the medication intravenously rather than intramuscularly.
Unrecognized by the nurses, the pharmacy erroneously delivered the
medication, prepared and ready to administer, in a dose ten times
greater than was ordered—1.5 million units. As nurse two was
administering the medication intravenously, the baby died. The Colorado
Board of Nursing initiated disciplinary proceedings against nurse two
and the nurse practitioner, but not against nurse one. The grand jury
indicted all three nurses on charges of criminally negligent homicide
but did not indict the pharmacist (Calfee & Plum, 1997).

Respond to the following:

  • Identify what emotions are evoked as you consider the Colorado Board of Nursing case stated above?
  • Should
    the courts take into consideration the fact that the nurses’ error
    occurred because they wanted to avoid causing the baby unnecessary pain?
    Discuss your thinking.
  • Can you think of other occupations in
    which the consequences of unintentional errors have greater legal
    implications? Discuss your answer.
  • How should the nursing profession respond to this frightening new legal threat?
  • Which sections of the State Nurse Practice Act did the nurses violate?

Submission Details:

  • Support your responses with examples.
  • Cite any sources in APA format.
  • Name your document SU_NSG4070_W3_A2_LastName_FirstInitial.doc.
  • Submit your document to the Submissions Area by the due date assigned.


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Criminal Prosecution for Nursing Practice was first posted on May 14, 2019 at 9:25 am.
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