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Is my nursing license at risk if I do not help during an emergency?

Nurses are heroes. Never has the general public been more aware of this fact than watching these medical professionals rise to the challenges presented during the pandemic. In addition to the increased expectations during the pandemic, nurses continue to find themselves facing difficult situations even when off the clock.

In a recent example, a Texas nurse helped a woman who was having seizures while aboard a flight. The nurse was not just off duty, but on vacation. When she heard the call for help from the flight attendant, she “immediately jumped into action.” Four other nurses on the flight also helped and were able to stabilize the passenger until the pilot could find a place for an emergency landing.

But what if these nurses, or others in similar situations, did not jump into action? Would their nursing license be at risk? First, it is important to note that there are many reasons a nurse may not be able to help during an emergency. They may have young children they cannot safely leave; they may have consumed alcohol and not trust their judgment — after all, they are off the clock. As a result, it is unlikely that the choice to refrain from jumping into an emergency situation would have a negative impact on a nurse’s license. Generally, the Texas Board of Nursing only investigates if they receive a complaint.

In a situation like this, someone would need to file a complaint. Then the board would review the complaint and determine whether or not there was a violation. If a nurse believes they were the subject of such a complaint and are concerned it could lead to serious questions, it is a good idea to act to protect their license. A proactive response can help to better ensure a smooth and prompt resolution.