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Advance planning in district nursing practice

02 January 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 1


Most district nurses would willingly know precisely what the future has in store, as they would spend their professional time raking over past mistakes. Legal responsibilities require both, though each in a limited way. John Finch, a freelance journalist specialising in tax and ethics affecting clinical practice, examines how the building blocks of legal responsibility manifest themselves in advance planning in district nursing.

All aspects of a district nurse’s working day require the ability to anticipate what lies ahead and to do as best they can to prepare for it. Such abilities come with training and, even more so, with professional judgement founded on experience. Past mistakes or misjudgements are of value, if only to forewarn of learned errors and to provide solutions towards them. Wisdom before the event is often a prerequisite to avoid the occurrence of an untoward outcome.

To say that legal responsibility encompasses learning from past mistakes is no threat to the legal responsibilities of district nurses for at least two reasons. First, the law never expects a guaranteed outcome in any arena of treatment or care. Second, no two cases are exactly the same in each and every detail and there is no guarantee that the avoidance of such-and-such an outcome will guarantee a perfect, or even desired result in any particular case.

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