Because Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners are often considered the patient’s primary care provider for women’s health, they need to be familiar with all legal concerns related to it.
The first on the list of legal concerns is the scope of practice.
Each state strictly determines the scope of practice for any healthcare profession, including nurse practitioners.
In some states, nurse practitioners are allowed to practice independently, while in other states, physician supervision is required.
If a nurse practitioner acts outside its scope of practice, it increases the risk of losing the NP license and lead to legal prosecution.
The level of care that nurse practitioners provide is almost equivalent to the MD’s level of care.
NPs are in charge of patient education and it is an essential part of their role.
Women’s Health NPs need to cover all issues and possible failures for both women and fetal health.
For example, a mother-to-be diagnosed with gestational diabetes needs to be educated about diabetes process, proper diet and nutrition, blood glucose monitoring, and proper use of medications.
Insufficient or misleading education can result in complications at birth.
Documenting all educational activities is required alongside the patient’s response.
For example, when an NP documents that expectant mother successfully demonstrated insulin self-injection, it shows that NP has successfully completed the required education.
OBGYN nurse practitioners may face legal concerns during their reproductive health and birth control counseling activities.
NPs need to be extra careful when counseling teenagers and familiar with the laws of the state where they practice.
In some states, there are privacy laws that protect teenagers and say that teenagers can be prescribed birth control without their parents’ knowledge.
Therefore, Women’s Health NPs must be familiar with the privacy laws of the state.
An important element of the Women’s Health NP role in abortion counseling.
NPs need to be thorough and to document each stage of counseling.
There are specific terms for patients seeking abortions in some facilities.
Also, some organizations require that pregnancy counseling is performed alongside future birth control, etc.
All potential side effects of medications need to be properly addressed and NPs need to document treatment response.
Legal concerns are also part of the childbirth.
There is a set of injuries, such as fetal demise, unexpected C-section, perineal tears, that can happen during childbirth.
Parents are in severe distress when any complication happens, and sometimes they require answers.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners are in-charge of assessing and monitoring patients, and family education.
Some situations require having a colleague or MD present in the room when telling information or performing certain procedures.
All procedures that are to be done, need to be properly monitored and a patient needs to sign the consent which proves that he or she was properly educated about potential risks and decided to complete it.
A career of Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner is very rewarding and enriching.
But, legal actions are an integral part of health care.
NPs can avoid risk by following the educational protocols, practicing within their scope of practice, reporting and documenting everything, maintaining ethical decisions, and knowing their limitations.