Top Causes of Malpractice Claims Involving Nurses

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Primary Causes of Malpractice Claims Involving Nurses

In a hospital, nurses and other medical professionals can make mistakes as a result of the high pressure and challenges associated with their work. Over 250,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors. The many reasons why medical malpractice claims are made against nurses include everything from patient neglect to not administering the correct medications.

Poor Documentation and Patient Neglect

Maintaining records and documentation is essential since it allows nurses to provide the proper level of care. Nurses are able to use documentation to evaluate the progress the patient is making and communicate with patients and doctors. If a nurse doesn’t keep accurate documentation, performing these duties without making a mistake becomes increasingly difficult.

Some of the more common mistakes that occur as a result of improper documentation include failing to record the change a patient makes for the worse, not having records of a patient’s vitals, and using wrong abbreviations that other medical professionals won’t understand.

The types of issues that can occur because of these mistakes differ depending on the patient’s condition. A common example of improper documentation involves a doctor not prescribing the right amount of medication because the nurse didn’t note that the patient’s condition was worsening.

Patient monitoring is a core duty for practically all nurses, which can involve physically and visually assessing patients for health changes, keeping track of vital signs, and responding to the needs of each patient. If a nurse doesn’t adequately monitor a patient, they might be held responsible for the patient’s injuries. In this scenario, the affected patient usually needs to prove that he or she was under the nurse’s direct care, the nurse’s neglect caused the injuries, and the nurse failed to properly monitor the patient’s condition.

Incorrect Positioning During Surgery

Some nurses have specialized their area of care and thus they specifically work in an operating room. In most situations, these nurses are responsible for assisting with everything that takes place in an OR, which includes making sure that each patient is in the proper position during the surgery. The correct positioning can differ with each patient, which depends on such factors as:

  • Body weight
  • Age
  • Medication
  • Surgery type
  • Anesthesia requirements

Incorrect positioning during a procedure can result in short-term or long-term injuries. When a patient is placed in a poor position, this could restrict the blood flow to a certain body part, block respiratory functions, and cause nerve damage by placing undue amounts of pressure on specific body parts.

Additional Causes of Nursing Malpractice to Consider

Nursing malpractice can occur when a nurse doesn’t perform their duties in the manner that a competent nurse would in a similar situation. Not every error a nurse makes involves medical malpractice. Even though the majority of medical malpractice cases take place in a hospital, there are times when these issues occur in a doctor’s office, the patient’s home, or a long-term care facility.

It’s possible that a nurse improperly administered medications. Providing the wrong dosage doesn’t always occur because of poor documentation. The medication might have been provided too late or too early. Malpractice may be committed if a nurse doesn’t recognize that administering a medication could lead to an adverse effect because of the patient’s current health or an additional medication they might be taking.

Another cause of medical malpractice claims involves not notifying the doctor of certain issues. Nurses tend to care for patients more often than doctors, which means that they are required to notify doctors in the event of the patient’s condition worsening or when they get back adverse lab results for a patient. If the nurse fails to notify the doctor, the patient might not receive the care they need to survive or improve. This mistake could also be considered negligence.

A nurse could also accidentally injure one or more patients with certain types of medical equipment. Some injuries wouldn’t constitute medical malpractice. However, situations like burning a patient, hitting the patient with a sizable piece of equipment, or forgetting to remove a medical device from the patient’s body during a surgical procedure could be negligent.

Nurses can make the mistake of not informing the patient of an important piece of information upon discharge. When a patient is discharged, he or she is usually told to take certain medications and attend follow appointments. If this information isn’t relayed to the patient, this could result in a medical malpractice claim being filed in the event of an injury.

Who Is Directly Responsible for Medical Malpractice Involving Nurses?

When nursing malpractice takes place, the plaintiff will need to determine who will be held responsible for the negligent acts in question. The responsible party could be the attending doctor or the hospital.

The hospital might be legally responsible for a case of nursing malpractice if the nurse was employed at the hospital when the incident took place, a doctor outside of the hospital wasn’t in charge of the nurse, and the nurse was performing a basic duty at the time the patient was injured. The majority of nurses are employees of a hospital, which is why it’s common for hospitals to be named as defendants when it comes to nursing malpractice cases.

The attending doctor could also be held responsible if he or she was directly supervising the nurse. In this scenario, the hospital might not be responsible for the incident. The attending doctor could be said to be supervising the nurse when the neglect occurred if the doctor was currently present and had full control to keep the nurse’s negligence from taking place.

As an example, let’s say that a nurse provides a patient with a higher medication dose than needed during surgery, which leads to the patient being injured. The doctor who performs the surgery might be liable for the injuries since they were in the room when the nurse incorrectly administered the drug.

Determining who was responsible for negligence is usually disputed between the hospital and the doctor. The only difference is who pays for the compensation if a medical malpractice claim is granted. Even when a doctor supervises a nurse, it’s possible for the hospital to be held liable if the attending doctor gave incorrect orders to the nurse.

An example of this situation is when a nurse tells a doctor that the patient is having a poor reaction to a medication. The doctor could tell the nurse to continue providing the medication. If the nurse does so and the patient becomes injured, this could be neglect by the nurse as well as the hospital. A competent nurse might have stopped administering the medication despite the doctor ordering otherwise.

Service Provided by a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a family member have been harmed because of medical malpractice by a nurse, a New Jersey personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you in building your case and gathering any evidence that might corroborate your claims.

Before a medical malpractice claim is filed, counsel will need to determine what your legal options are. Personal injury lawyers usually investigate claims and work with witnesses to start preparing arguments. All documentation should also be filled out and prepared by the lawyer you hire. The types of compensation that can be obtained in this type of case include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Funeral expenses

Medical malpractice claims involving nurses aren’t always straightforward, which is why you might want to explore all legal avenues. If you need help identifying what your next step will be, call our New Jersey personal injury lawyers today at (732) 247-3600 to schedule your first appointment at our New Brunswick or Somerville office.

Contact Our Office

To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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