Legal Ramifications for Exceeding One’s Duties


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List which Learning Exercise you are solving at the start of your analysis and provide a brief summary of the case. Be sure to apply an appropriate problem-solving/decision-making model (Traditional Problem-Solving Process, Managerial Decision-Making Model, The Nursing Process, or the Integrated Ethical Problem-Solving Model) in determining what you should do. Justify your decision with supporting evidence.

Writing Expectations—3 to 4 pages, double-spaced, in length, not counting title page and references. APA format required (title page, citations in body of paper, and reference list). The steps of the problem-solving or decision-making model chosen should be used as subheadings for the paper. Each analysis should include a brief introduction and conclusion. Be sure to identify numerically which Learning Exercise is being analyzed.

study case

You have been the evening charge nurse in the emergency department at Memorial Hospital for the last 2 years. You have two licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and four registered nurses (RNs) working in your department with you. Your normal staffing is to have two RNs and one LVN on duty Monday to Thursday and one LVN and three RNs on duty during the weekend.

It has become apparent that one of the LVNs, Maggie, resents the recently imposed limitations of LVN duties because she has had 10 years of experience in nursing, including a tour of duty as a medic in the first Gulf War. The emergency department physicians admire her and are always asking her to assist them with any minor wound repair. Occasionally, she has exceeded her job description as an LVN in the hospital, although she has done nothing illegal of which you are aware. You have given her satisfactory performance evaluations in the past, even though everyone is aware that she sometimes pretends to be a “junior physician.” You also suspect that the physicians sometimes allow her to perform duties outside her licensure, but you have not investigated this or seen it yourself.

Tonight, you come back from supper and find Maggie suturing a deep laceration while the physician looks on. They both realize that you are upset, and the physician takes over the suturing. Later, the doctor comes to you and says, “Don’t worry! She does a great job, and I’ll take the responsibility for her actions.” You are not sure what you should do. Maggie is a good employee and taking any action will result in unit conflict.


What are the legal ramifications of this case? Discuss what you should do, if anything. What responsibility and liability exist for the physician, Maggie, and you? Use appropriate rationale to support your decision.

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