Regulator's new code of conduct covers 'good Samaritan' acts
The Nursing and Midwifery Council's new Code expects nurses to offer help in emergencies
Nurses will be expected always to offer help if an emergency arises, even when they are off duty, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) new code of conduct states.
The Code, containing 25 standards, emphasises that registrants must demonstrate they have provided care only within the limits of their knowledge and competence. They should also arrange, wherever possible, for emergency care to be accessed and provided promptly, while taking account of their own safety, the safety of others and the availability of other options for providing care.
NMC director of continued practice Katerina Kolyva told the March 2015 issue of Emergency Nurse that it is vital nurses act only within the limits of their competencies, whether this means directly treating someone or simply holding the person’s hand.
‘It could be either of these extremes,’ she said. ‘What we are saying is that they should not exceed their competence in trying to manage the [public’s] expectations of what they can do.’
However, University of Wolverhampton senior lecturer in emergency care and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust emergency nurse practitioner Jim Bethel said the Code is ‘ambiguous’ about when nurses should and should not respond.
‘Assessing risk outside hospital is different,’ he explains. ‘Nurses can put themselves at risk when they respond to emergency situations. It is important that they take into account environmental risks before deciding to treat someone.’
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