Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Can A Nurse’s License Be Revoked For Medication Errors?

A sad situation occurred in South Carolina where a nurse misread a physician’s order resulting in the over medication of a child causing his death. It is so sad that this happened.

The family now has gone to the State legislature and asked that a law be passed which would require the South Carolina State Board of Nursing to revoke the nurse’s license if a nurse misreads a physician’s order and either over medicates or under medicates a patient. The proposed legislation is called Samuel’s Law named after the child that lost his life. In addition, South Carolina statute permits permanent revocation whereas in other States you can reapply after a certain amount of time.

While this situation remains truly tragic and sad for the family, there are three considerations about such a law that should be kept in mind. First, the bill completely disregards fundamental due process of the opportunity for the nurse to be heard. Second, it usurps the authority of the nursing board which has the duty to protect the public by rendering appropriate discipline. And third, the bill would contradict the basic principles of fairness, sometimes called “just culture,” which has been widely adopted in the healthcare industry.

My professional and personal concern is that should this legislation be passed, because South Carolina is a nurse license compact State, it could be adopted by other compact States as well.

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA) would like to prevent this and has written a press release about the proposed law in opposition. We (TAANA) are in the process of writing a position statement on this legislation as well.

If you agree with my thoughts in this blog post and live in South Carolina, please communicate with your State legislators to let them know this law is unfair to nurses. I would love to hear your thoughts below. Please leave a comment.

2 Comments

  1. Becky

    This is a sad state of affairs. People are human and although it’s sad to have loss of life, to have a person’s career ended with one mistake is also not justice and it won’t bring the person back or prevent future errors as the reason why most errors occur are understaffing, too heavy of a patient load, too much multitasking, too many other responsibilities that take your mind off the job. By creating laws like this you do take the State Board of Nursing’s power away. A state law that know’s nothing about the job would be a horrible thing. Should we enact laws to take Lawyers and Dr’s, License away? This whole “Blame the Nurse” for everything syndrome is wrong and is one of the reasons I’m not doing the job anymore except for volunteer. Why not try to fix why the errors occur? Keep the State laws out if it!
    I’m not in SC so I can’t help but I hope it doesn’t pass. You think there is a shortage of Nurses now, let’s see what it looks like when you let the Legislative laws take over.

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