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Responsibility, accountability and liability

Peter Ellis - Independent Nursing, Health and Social Care Consultant, Writer and Educator Hannah Ellis - Senior Paralegal Coordinator First published: Last updated:

Introduction

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code (NMC, 2018) reminds nurses that they are ‘accountable for their work’, and accountability is widely discussed in the workplace and educational settings. This article considers what it means to be accountable as a nurse from an ethical, legal and professional perspective.

This article is part of a series on nursing ethics. This article provides an overview of responsibility, accountability and liability in nursing practice and should not be used as a legal guide.

Why is accountability important?

Accountability considers the patient’s and their loved ones’ right to know that the people delivering their care are capable, and there is some redress if they make a mistake.

Nurses are among the most trusted professional groups, partly because accountability is a central tenet of professional nursing practice (Davis, 2017). Nurses are required to hold themselves to account, and in doing so, foster high standards

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Peter Ellis

Hannah Ellis

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