Nurses, like all medical professionals, are held to a high standard when it comes to the care of patients. Nurses have a significant responsibility for the care of patients. In hospitals, nurses usually carry out most of the patient care, carry out doctors’ orders, administer medication, respond to the needs of patients, monitor medical equipment, and act as a go-between from the patient to the doctor(s).
There are times though when a nurse may make a mistake or act in a negligent way. If this occurs, injured patients may be able to seek financial compensation for physical, financial, and emotional harm through a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or other facility that employs the nurse.
The definition of nursing malpractice can be considered the failure by a nurse to provide a patient with proper or adequate care. This can result from action or inaction provided that the result is substandard care and the patient is injured. Examples include:
- Administering the wrong medication.
- Delaying response to the distress calls of a patient.
- Negligently monitoring a patient after a surgery.
- Forgetting to write down on a patient’s chart that medication had been administered.
- Failure to listen to a patient’s complaints of symptoms or failure to inform the attending physician.
- Failure to check a patient’s chart before s/he administers care.
- Improperly performing a medical procedure.
- Misreading or failing to monitor medical equipment.
Nursing errors fall into three categories:
- Delaying or doing or saying nothing when patients are in need,
- Injuring a patient by improperly administering medication, and
- Injuring a patient with medical equipment.
Who is liable?
When a nurse has made a mistake or is negligent in the care of the patient, the nurse’s employer is typically the one held accountable. The employer is usually the hospital or other medical facility the nurse works for. The injured patient can seek damages including:
- Medical expenses,
- Future medical care,
- Assistive devices,
- In-home care,
- Physical therapy,
- Lost earnings,
- Future lost earnings,
- Emotional trauma, and/or
- Pain and suffering.
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