6 Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Nurse Practitioner Career


This is an exciting time to be a Nurse Practitioner.

As the need for accessible health care continues to grow so do the roles and responsibilities of Nurse Practitioners.

But beware, this growth and increasing focus on NPs puts them at increased risk for malpractice claims.

If you’re an NP, you must practice smart or risk ruining your career.

With the help of the Nurses Service Organization’s 10-year Nurse Practitioner Claim Study, 1994-2004, results, I’ve listed 6 mistakes that could ruin your Nurse Practitioner career and how to avoid them.

1. Working with the wrong physician – The “wrong” physician is any physician that doesn’t provide what you need to grow and thrive as an NP, i.e. leaving a new NP alone in a busy practice, setting unrealistic goals and expectations for NPs, not providing opportunities to learn and ask questions, and asking NPs to practice outside of their scope of practice.

2. Practicing outside of defined scope of practice – Stay up to date with your state Nurse Practice Act and revise collaborative practice agreements and protocols, based on clinical practice guidelines, annually. These are usually the first items the BRN and medical board will ask for if they show up at your practice.

3. Incomplete health information or documentation – A complete health information record is your best legal defense. Each patient visit documentation should include: Discussions with the patient and recommendations for treatment, patient response, informed consent or refusal of recommended treatment, receipt of test results and action taken, referrals for testing or consultation, prescription refills, revised patient problem list and medications with every diagnosis, educational materials given, missed appointments with all efforts to follow up with patient.

4. Failing to seek timely consultation and advice – I hear too many stories about NPs and PAs failing to seek advice when a patient has a recurring complaint that doesn’t respond to treatment and the stories usually don’t end well for the patient.  Listen to the patient and always error on the side of caution. Get another opinion sooner rather than later.

5. Seeing too many patients in one day – This cannot be overlooked. According to Nurses Service Organization’s 10-year Nurse Practitioner Claim Study, there were more claims against NPs who saw more than 18 patients per day at the time of the incident.

6. Not carrying professional liability insurance – This goes with saying. Protect your license, you, and your family’s assets in the event you are sued.

To read the full NSO Nurse Practitioner Survey, visit http://www.nso.com/npclaimstudy2009.


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