N108: Transition to the Registered Professional Nurse Role Study Guide • Contributory neglige ce: This refers to any patient conduct that is the cause of his injury regardless of whether the nurse is negligent or not. This is often used to defend the nurse’s role in the patient injury. A form of contributory negligence is comparative negligence , which requires the court to assign damages based on the degree to which each party is at fault. Common nursing errors include the following areas: assessment omission (failure to assess ambulation status), planning omission (failure to know and act on the side effects of medications resulting in drowsiness or impaired judgment and intervention omission), and failure to document all interventions. Common acts of nursing malpractice include acts that can result in a lawsuit, such as falls, medication errors, and failure to monitor, report, or take action on a patient’s condition. Some possible risk situations that can place the nurse at risk for malpractice include improper restraints, burns, equipment injury, and communication problems. • Assault: Assault is the intentional and unlawful offer to touch a person in an offensive, insulting, or physically intimidating manner and the fear of battery. The patient might have a claim for assault if he was threatened with harm and believed the threat was imminent. • Battery: Battery is touching without consent. This tort might rise to the level of crime in some instances. Lower level battery can be sued on under civil law. The patient does not need to be awake and aware of battery. Forcing a procedure on a patient who has refused it can be considered battery. • Invasion of privacy: This is when private information about a patient’s health is made public. In this case, a patient can sue even if the information is true. Any information regarding a patient’s physical condition, if released to the public, could be considered an invasion of privacy. • Confidentiality: This refers to all information about patients considered private or confidential, whether written on paper, saved on a computer, or spoken aloud. This includes all identifiers of personal information, such as the patient’s name, address, reason for care, treatments, and past health conditions. • Privileged communication: This refers to the legal phrase for a patient’s right to keep communication with his or her doctor a secret, and varies from state to state with the right limited to doctor only. The patient’s communication with the nurse is not covered, so the nurse can be asked to testify in court. • Qualified communication: This refers to the nurse’s qualified right to communicate confidential information about a patient and is allowed to protect the patient or the public. • Fraud: This is intentionally lying for one’s own gain. This is grounds for a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. Fraud could also be a crime punishable by a fine and/or jail time. It is the willful and purposeful misrepresentation that could cause or has caused harm to a person or property. • Defamation of character: This refers to an intentional tort in which one party makes derogatory remarks about another that diminish the other party’s reputation. It is grounds for an award of civil damages. This can be done through spoken communication (slander) or through written communication (libel).