Nurses play a special and important role in the medical care of patients. Many doctors consider nurses to be their eyes and ears when they cannot be with a patient. Nurses have been trained to understand signs and symptoms of diseases and ailments and the importance of any changes in the patient’s condition. It is important to notify the physician of any changes in a timely manner. Should a nurse fail to fulfill their duty, the result to the patient could be injury and/or death.
All medical professionals are held to a certain standard of care when it comes to caring for patients, and any medical professional can be held liable for medical malpractice. A nurse has committed medical malpractice when he or she has departed from the good and accepted standards of nursing care, resulting in harm to the patient. This harm can include emotional or physical injury or death. Nursing malpractice can occur in a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office, or the home of the patient.
Types of nursing malpractice include:
- The improper use of an instrument,
- Failure to carry out the orders of a physician,
- Failure to properly monitor other patient,
- Making improper notes,
- Failure to recognize significant signs and symptoms of the patient,
- Failure to notify the physician of the patient’s condition or if there are any changes to his or her condition, or
- Performing tasks that are part of their duty in a negligent manner.
In most cases, when a registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse has made a mistake or is negligent when caring for at patient, the employer will be held responsible. This is usually the hospital or other medical facility the nurse works for. The injured patient or the patient’s representative can file a lawsuit against the hospital or facility and seek financial compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses,
- Future medical expenses,
- Assistive devices or in-home care,
- Physical therapy,
- Pain and suffering,
- Lost earnings,
- Future lost earnings, and/or
- Emotional trauma.
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