1. Starr, Kristopher T. JD, MSN, RN

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I'm Kristopher Starr, the new columnist for Legal Matters. As a nurse attorney, I have a dozen years of legal practice under my belt and about 17 years of professional nursing practice. In this column, I want to give you a legal perspective on issues that have become hot topics in my clinical practice or within the nursing profession. For example:


* Why should a chaperone be present for clinical exams and procedures-we're not at a high-school dance, right? True, but to head off liability issues, chaperoning is gaining a lot of traction in clinical practice. In my next column, I'll discuss when it's a good idea to involve a chaperone and why.


* Do you ever help out patients at discharge by giving them "to go" medications from stock? If so, have you considered whether this charitable gesture could jeopardize your license? This is an important issue I'll cover in a future column.


* If you provide home nursing care to a relative, what potential legal quagmires should you anticipate (and try to avoid)?



I'll also answer questions that you, the readers, submit about problems that crop up in your own practice. The correct legal answer to many of your dilemmas will be "it depends," an accurate, yet admittedly frustrating response. But, as you'll see, the resolution of many legal issues is highly dependent on the unique facts of the case.


Before we go any further, let me tell you about my education and experience.


My background

By training and experience, I'm an emergency nurse, splitting most of my last dozen years in nursing between a pediatric ED and the ED in a large, teaching university-affiliated American College of Surgeons (ACS)-verified level I trauma center. I've also been an ICU and progressive care unit RN at a community hospital. Following my graduation from nursing school sometime in the last millennium, I spent 2 years as a med/surg RN.


I have my BSN and MSN degrees from the University of Delaware (Go Blue Hens!). Next year, I'll complete my post-master's adult-gerontology NP program. I'm adjunct and affiliated faculty at the university level, where I teach nursing and health services administration in undergraduate (BSN) and graduate (MS/MSN) programs.


As an attorney, I've practiced as a prosecutor and prosecuted some healthcare providers for care-related offenses. I've been a government lawyer and a state administrative hearing officer (similar to an administrative law judge). For the past 5 years, I've been in private practice where my focus is elder law, personal injury/tort/workers' compensation, criminal and professional defense, and professional malpractice.


A few caveats

As we take this trip down medicolegal lane together, I have a few caveats that professional ethics (and my malpractice insurer) require me to put forth. Nothing I write is intended to provide individual legal advice or give rise to the formation of, continuation of, or establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Any written opinions I provide are for general informational purposes only and are not meant in any way to be used as specific legal advice on any one topic or topics. My opinions are my own and aren't meant to constitute legal advice from either myself or the attorneys of or professional association of Ferry, Joseph & Pearce, PA.


Should you have any legal questions or issues of a personal or professional nature concerning any topic or topics, you should consult an attorney of your choosing licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which you work or reside.


With all the above said, I look forward to the journey!


Kristopher T. Starr, JD, MSN, RN