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Nurses at risk of multiple jeopardy over allegations of unprofessional behaviour

22 September 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 17


Richard Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Health Law at Swansea University, considers the concept of multiple jeopardy faced by nurses who are accused of unprofessional behaviour

In a recent analysis of cases relating to nurses, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) found that it was common for those nurses to have several different investigations launched into a single incident. This is known as ‘multiple jeopardy’ (MDU, 2022).

Nurses' exposure to multiple jeopardy is founded on the multifaceted nature of the duty they owe to their patients and the nature of their accountability. Accountability underpins the professionalism, integrity and probity of nurses. It holds nurses answerable for their acts or omissions to a range of higher authorities and legally binds the nurse to their rules and regulations.

Four areas of law are drawn together to provide maximum protection to the public from the harmful acts or omissions of nurses. By making nurses accountable, the law regulates their practice and deters them from conduct that might pose a threat to the public as shown in Figure 1.

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