Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists have an important role in assisting in the administering of anesthesia to patients undergoing a medical procedure. Today’s blog discusses some common error that lead to professional license complaints filed with the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Some of these errors are easy to avoid and some are more complicated. I also discuss whether or not a CRNA should obtain their own malpractice insurance coverage separate from that of their employers.
What are the Most Common Professional License Complaints Filed Against Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists in North Carolina?
I went through disciplinary action logs from the NC Board of Nursing and found the following mistakes that occurred by CRNAs. These are all public record. Although a small sample size, the published orders gave a pretty good indication as to what types of ethical violations occurred the most by CRNAs in North Carolina. By providing this information, I hope CRNAs will learn for other’s mistakes.
The most common ethical violation by CRNAs in North Carolina right now is deviation of controlled substances for personal use/failing to maintain an accurate record of all pertinent health care information. Certified registered nurse anesthetists must document waste, return, and administration of controlled substances. The CRNAs that faced discipline typically deviated controlled substances for either personal use or to sell to third parties. Prescription audits, required by the Board of Nursing, will catch deviations of controlled substances or negligent record keeping.
Alcohol/drug dependency is the next most common ethical violation by CRNAs in North Carolina. For one reason or another, some CRNAs develop dependency to alcohol and/or drugs. This obviously endangers the patient as a medical professional under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be able to properly care for patients. Licensed nurses in North Carolina can seek help through one of the NC Board of Nursing programs.
Another trouble area for some CRNAs seems to be failing to adhere to the minimal standard of care in the practice of nursing. One case involved a CRNA not administering additional anesthesia in the spinal area when a patient was experiencing pain beyond the anesthetized area. There were also multiple published orders where the CRNA knew the correct course of action regarding treatment of the patient; however, the Physician in the room did not listen and told the CRNA to proceed with treatment the CRNA knew was incorrect. The CRNA did not abide by their training, allowed the Physician to make the call and the CRNA was discipline. This is a difficult situation for the CRNA. However, the CRNA has to remain steadfast in their job and never drop below their minimal standard of practice. This all leads to a question I have heard been asked by CRNAs, NPs, RN, and other medical professionals. Should I get my own malpractice insurance coverage?
Should CRNA’s Obtain Malpractice Insurance Coverage Separate From That Of Their Employer?
At the very least, CRNAs should look into acquiring their own malpractice insurance coverage. Depending on employment setting, you may not want to rely on just coverage from your employer. Reason being is that your employer is only going to be covered up to a certain amount of liability, which may not end up being enough to cover all staff that may be sued in the event of malpractice. For example, if a CRNA is named in a suit along with other medical professional attending to the patient on the day in question and an employer has a $1,000,000 per occurrence policy. The employer could settle for the policy limit which may only cover the physician, and facility. That may not be enough to cover the CRNA as well. Per most malpractice policies, the policy holder (employer) may be able to settle the case without notifying the medical staff they are supposedly covering. That settlement typically will be public record if a lawsuit has been filed. Not to sound like a cynic, but the employer, typically a hospital or other medical facility company, is going to be looking out for their own bottom line. At the end of the day, it can’t hurt to have extra coverage. There will be a cost to the CRNA, and the coverage will probably never be needed, but it is a huge benefit if it is needed.
Nothing in this blog post is intended to be legal advice or establishes the attorney-client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. If you’d like to learn more about professional licensing issues in North Carolina check out our site at www.northstatelawfirm.com or our YouTube site here. North State Law can also be reached at 919-521-8810.