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ACCOUNTABILITY IS about being concerned for the moral and legal requirements of patient care. (1)
Nurses are always accountable for their practice. The introduction of the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act (2) has highlighted to nurses that they are accountable to the public, whether to an individual or to the wider community. The public has a right to expect a demonstration of that accountability. Nurses are also accountable to their regulatory body, the Nursing Council, and to employers. Direction and guiding principles for each nurse can be viewed as either a vertical or lateral line of accountability. This has been described in terms of:
* upward accountability (looking up the line and doing what managers and administrators require);
* lateral accountability (accountability as self-regulation, in which practitioners are accountable to, and judged by, criteria set by their peers); and
* downward, or public accountability (where staff are accountable to patients). (3) …