Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession(4)13 Oct 96   PDF Version

  Quick Summary: When a patient does not void urine for a twenty-four hour period after a urinary catheter, inserted during surgery, has been removed, it falls beneath accepted standards of nursing practice if the nurses caring for the patient fail to notice this fact and to fail to take corrective action, according to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

   According to the court, nurses caring for a post-operative patient whose urinary catheter has been removed must monitor the patient closely to make certain that the patient has begun to void appropriate quantities of urine. If not, the standard of care for nursing in this situation requires reporting the situation to the physician and taking steps to see that the patient is re-catheterized to be able to void.

   The court did not go so far as to state that nurses may re-catheterize a patient in such a situation without an explicit one-time or p.r.n. order from the physician.

   If the patient suffers harm, as in this case, bladder distention, dehiscence of sutures in the bladder wall, leakage of urine, and the need for additional corrective surgery, the nurses who failed to monitor the patient’s urinary output, or lack thereof, and their employer, can be sued for professional negligence. Horton vs. Carolina Medicorp, Inc., 472 S.E. 2d 778 (N.C., 1996).

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