Medical professionals have an obligation to act responsibly towards the patients under their care. This is true for hospitals, doctors, and even nurses. If a nurse provided poor or negligent care, there may be grounds for seeking legal action..

What is nursing malpractice?

Nursing malpractice is very similar to malpractice cases that involve doctors. Generally, nursing malpractice happens when a nurse fails to perform the job duties that a competent nurse would do, in the same situation. It’s important to keep in mind that not every lapse in judgment or mistake will constitute negligence, as negligence only occurs when the patient is harmed in some way. There are a variety of different situations which can constitute nursing medical malpractice.

Failure to act or speak

It’s the nurse’s responsibility to care for their patient. If a sudden emergency arises in which the patient needs the nurse’s help and that nurse fails to take proper action, such as giving the patient medicine or calling for help from a doctor, then that nurse may be liable for damages.

In addition, nurses have a duty to look over the patient and monitor their health. If a nurse observes something wrong or concerning but doesn’t report it to the doctor, they may be liable for malpractice. This is also the case if the nurse “should” notice something but fails to. Determining what a nurse “should” have observed can be difficult to determine.

Patient injury

Nurses commonly use medical equipment as a part of their job. If they were to injure the patient while using such a device or piece of equipment, then they may be liable for malpractice. Actions such as leaving objects inside the patient after surgery, dropping something on the patient, or even burning them would be considered injuries caused due to negligence.

Improper medicinal administration

Another major portion of a nurse’s job duties involve administering prescribed medication to the patient. If the nurse fails to perform this duty or performs it incorrectly, they could be liable for malpractice. Improper medicinal administration could include actions such as:

  • Forgetting to administer medication.
  • Providing improper doses.
  • Injecting medication in the wrong area of the body.
  • Other errors involving medication.

It is important to remember that this category can include more situations than only the examples listed. To fully understand whether a nurse’s actions constitute malpractice, always seek licensed legal counsel..

Determining Liability

Much of the time, nursing malpractice cases will have to determine who’s responsible. It’s generally either the hospital or the doctor:

The hospital

Hospitals are often the defendants in nursing malpractice cases. They’re financially and legally responsible if the nurse was their employee, was performing their job when the patient was injured, and when there was no independently managed doctor in charge of the situation.

The overseeing doctor

Instead of the hospital, sometimes the doctor will be responsible for the nurse’s actions, even if that nurse isn’t their direct employee. For this to occur, it would have to be shown that the doctor was present and that he or she had control over the nurse.

Expert testimony

Nursing malpractice cases are the same as cases involving doctors. This means that most of the time, a medical expert will be required to testify for both sides. For nursing malpractice cases, a trained nurse could be required to inform the court what the proper actions should have been.

How we can help you

Determining whether a nurse has committed malpractice is a complicated process. Most situations have many elements to consider. Because of the complexity of medical malpractice lawsuits, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified legal professional.

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