Understanding the standard of care required by nurses
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Understanding the standard of care required by nurses

Iwan Dowie Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Law, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand how the standard of care is defined

  • To ensure you are meeting the standard of care during your practice

  • To recognise the common defences used by nurses who do not meet the standard of care

It is an established principle that nurses owe their patients a duty of care, which incorporates a legal, an ethical and a professional duty. However, they must also meet the standard of care deemed necessary to maintain safe and effective delivery of care to patients. Defining what is meant by the standard of care is complex, and meeting it can be challenging in an increasingly pressurised healthcare environment. This article describes the standard of care required using previous legal cases. It also explores some of the challenges involved in defining the standard of care in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11487

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software




Conflict of interest


Dowie I (2020) Understanding the standard of care required by nurses. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11487

Published online: 23 March 2020

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