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Nursing Liability and Chain of Command

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SCENARIO: A FIVE-DAY-OLD INFANT is diagnosed with systemic Candida albicans (yeast). During rounds, the resident physician is told to start 5FC (flucytosine). When the order is written, it is for 5FU (fluorouracil, a cancer drug). The medication arrives on the unit; the nurse checks it against the order and determines that it is for the right patient, right dose, right route, right time, and, according to the order, right drug. The infant receives the drug from nurses on two shifts. The nurse on the night shift, a new nurse, asks why the infant is receiving a cancer drug. She calls the pharmacy to question it, then calls the resident physician and is told that it was what the attending physician said to order. Despite the nurse's insistence that this is not the right drug, the resident demands that she give the drug as ordered. She gives the drug. The next morning the infant dies. A lawsuit is brought in which the resident, attending physicians, and hospital are named as defendants. The hospital is sued because of the negligence of its nurses who failed to question the order to give 5FU.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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