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A legal guide for the practicing nurse

30 June 2014
Julie Adams, Director, Marketing and Communications 
Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International
A legal guide for the practicing nurse
STTI book provides answers to questions in nursing you didn’t know you had
INDIANAPOLIS — Nurses are experts in patient care; however, their responsibilities don’t end there. In order to ensure a long and successful nursing career, it is vital to understand the legal issues that might present themselves when you least expect it and the best way to handle them.
Attorney Michele Mathes, JD, and Chief Nursing Officer JoAnne Reifsnyder, PhD, RN, have combined their decades of judicial and nursing experience to create a user-friendly, practical guidebook for practicing nurses.
In Nurse’s Law: Legal Questions & Answers for the Practicing Nurse, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), Mathes and Reifsnyder help nurses not only follow the nonnegotiable standards to meet their ethical, practical, and legal obligations, but to also understand the basis of these laws and the legal relationship with their patients.
“Practicing in such a high-stakes endeavor as health care, nurses must do more than follow legal and regulatory guidance — they must understand the legal basis for practice and their legal relationship with patients and strive to provide for [the] right thing to always be done,” Mathes and Reifsnyder said.
The question-and-answer format and case studies make this book a simple read for practicing nurses and nursing students alike. With chapters ranging from negligence and confidentiality to surrogate decision making and end-of-life care, the comprehensive text explores issues nurses experience on a daily basis. 
Nancy J. Brent, JD, MS, RN, a nurse attorney in private law practice, described the book as one that should be found in every nurse’s library. “Its invaluable guidance can help the nurse evaluate a patient care situation at issue and seek out resources — both within and outside the workplace — to help resolve a particular situation. Doing so will help the nurse know the right thing was done for the patient and, at the same time, know that the nurse’s own legal and ethical obligations were met.”
Nurse’s Law: Legal Questions & Answers for the Practicing Nurse
By Michele Mathes, JD; and JoAnne Reifsnyder, PhD, RN
ISBN-13: 9781935476009. Published by STTI, June 2014
Price: US $39.95. Soft cover and e-book, 256 pages. Trim size: 6 x 9
Available at
About the authors:
Michele Mathes, JD, is development coordinator of the Pennsylvania Senior Medicare Patrol project at the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE) and adjunct faculty at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University College of Medicine, and Saint Joseph’s University Institute of Catholic Bioethics.
JoAnne Reifsnyder, PhD, RN, is senior vice president for clinical operations and chief nursing officer for Genesis Health- Care, LLC, and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She has 35 years of experience in clinical practice, administration, consulting, education, and research.
The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is advancing world health and celebrating nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. Founded in 1922, STTI has more than 135,000 active members in more than 85 countries. Members include practicing nurses, instructors, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and others. STTI’s roughly 500 chapters are located at approximately 695 institutions of higher education throughout Armenia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, and Wales. More information about STTI can be found online at

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