The healthcare industry is a crucial foundation of society. They’re made up of highly skilled professionals that tackle different field specializations which aim to improve healthcare access and provide care for the general public. Healthcare professionals have undergone years of schooling and training to ensure that they’re fit for their medical roles.
However, medical workers are not invincible. While they’re constantly expected to deliver high-quality care and comply with their health standards and policies, they may still commit errors. In this article, you’ll learn more about a significant medical malpractice case involving nurses, called nursing malpractice.
- What Nursing Malpractice Means
Medical malpractice is perhaps a more popular form of legal action associated with healthcare professionals, but they mainly involve physicians. Meanwhile, nursing malpractice is only applicable to nurses. Nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse fails to provide the level of care expected from them, thus harming a patient.
Compared to a physician, nurses interact more with patients as their primary role revolves around patient care. When a nurse doesn’t deliver competent services in a typical healthcare situation, nursing malpractice may occur.
Here are sample situations where nursing malpractice may happen:
- Medication errors
- Mistakes in routine procedures
- Misuse of medical equipment
- Failure to address a patient emergency
- Inaccurate documentation
Check out this article to learn more about the elements of nursing malpractice.
- Suing A Nurse For Malpractice
Medical mistakes are often unexpected errors, but the harm that they can inflict may be irreversible and traumatic. To help patients who have suffered from potential nursing malpractice, whether it’s intentional or not, plaintiffs who can prove that the nurse in question is responsible for their injury or disability may file a nursing malpractice lawsuit.
If you’re a patient who has suffered from a potential case of nursing malpractice, it’s best to seek legal help, particularly from a medical malpractice attorney. Also, you’ll need a medical expert to testify and provide evidence that the defendant is indeed responsible for the injury, disability, or suffering.
The attestant should also be a nurse practicing in the same field as the defendant in order for their testimony to be considered. In some malpractice cases, there won’t be a need for an attestant if the act of malpractice is apparent and doesn’t need to be proven anymore.
- Factors That Increase Nursing Malpractice Cases
To delve deeper into nursing malpractice cases and their common causes, this journal article explored which factors mainly contribute to the increase of nursing malpractice cases:
- Nursing shortage and medical facility downsizing
- Delegation of unlicensed assistive personnel
- Increased responsibility and autonomy of nurses
- Early discharge of patients
- New technological advances
- Expanded legal definitions of liability and accountability
If proven guilty, the defendant will have to face a settlement, usually through disciplinary action like license revocation and monetary compensation for the patient’s pain and suffering.
- Identifying The Responsible Parties
In a nursing malpractice case, responsible parties may go beyond just the individual nurse. The hospital that the nurse is working for and the attending doctor at the time it happened may also be held liable. Since the nurse is an employee of the healthcare facility and has established an employment relationship with them, the hospital may also answer for the malpractice charges.
Additionally, the liability may fall onto the attending physician if the patient has proven that the doctor is present during the event of malpractice and wasn’t able to prevent it.
However, proving the liability of more people or institutions won’t increase the monetary compensation for the patient. It’ll only define whose pockets the settlement costs will be coming from.
- How Nurses Can Protect Themselves Against Malpractice
Fortunately, the possibility of being involved in nursing malpractice isn’t the end for medical nurses. If you’re a nurse, this section is for you. Here are some tips to protect yourself from nursing malpractice risks, and to help save yourself from personal and professional liabilities:
- Provide undivided attention to every patient by being present with them and build long-term relationships during their stay.
- Continue educating yourself about laws that cover your profession, especially nursing jurisprudence.
- Educate your patients about their prescribed medicines and medical procedures.
- Always document the services you provide, including interactions, in full detail.
- Double-check patient charts for medication and measure them twice before administration.
- Whether it’s a mild emergency or a seemingly dangerous symptom, don’t hesitate to refer patients to a physician. A few seconds of delay can put the patient’s life and your job on the line.
Nurses are no doubt one of the most valued members of the healthcare force. However, when malpractice occurs, it’s only fair to hold the responsible parties liable. To keep patients protected from malpractice, and to safeguard medical nurses from false malpractice claims, there are laws in place, and all parties have the right to assert their rights. Once all evidence are brought to light, only then can the court decide if malpractice indeed occurred.