A safe harbor is a legal provision to sidestep or eliminate legal or regulatory liability in certain situations, provided that certain conditions are met (Hayes, 2020). However, in nursing, it is a process from adverse action by the health care facility where the nurse is working when they make a reasonable faith request to reject an assignment. In the situation described, I would have claimed safe harbor. The rationale for making this statement lies in the fact that I lacked the requisite knowledge and skills required to provide quality nursing care. Thus, accepting the task would only put the patients in harm’s way.
From a legal perspective, seeking safe harbor would be the best option. Going ahead with absolute procedures without requisite know-how would endanger patients. The worst case scenario, as in this case, is causing the death of a patient, which is ultimately undesirable. I should have filled a safe harbor request form and submitted it to my supervisor. However, if this is impossible at the moment, an oral safe harbor request may be invoked.
From a patient safety point of view, they may argue that they are better off with the unqualified nurse offering care to the best of their knowledge rather than providing none. Though this might be true, placing the patient at an unjustifiable risk of harm is still not an option. Informed consent may be sought from the patient where only they are responsible in case of any complications.
For license protection purposes, a safe harbor is a haven. Proceeding with nursing care even though I lack the requisite knowledge would risk having my license withdrawn. As in the case illustrated, proceeding with nursing care constitutes unprofessional conduct and eventually a criminal act.