Nursing Negligence

Nursing negligence occurs when a nurse has done something, failed to do something or behaves in a way that a reasonable nurse would not. It is the failure of a nurse to meet accepted standards of nursing practice and competence and can result in a medical malpractice charge due serious injury or death.

Nurses undertake the responsibility of patient care assessment, planning and management of patient care and must implement a variety of treatment plans according to medical care standards and instruction. An increasing workload, expanding nursing work roles and greater access to healthcare has also meant that legal claims against nursing staff are increasing.

While nursing negligence can arise from either doing something that is inappropriate, or not doing something that is intended, a majority of nursing negligence claims arise from nurses’ failure to perform an assessment or notify the treating physician of critical changes to a patient’s condition.

Another common nursing error may occur during medication administration, which contributes up to 30% of all medical malpractice cases. Nursing negligence in medication administration includes giving the wrong drug, giving the wrong dose of the drug, or using an incorrect method to administer the drug or giving medication to the wrong patient.

Nursing Obligations for Patient Safety

Nursing staff has an obligation to advocate for the patient. However, they cannot modify a course set by the physician simply because they hold a different view.

Carrying out a physician’s order may insulate a nurse from medical negligence liability, but blindly carrying out such orders may not insulate them from liability when those orders are questionable may still result in nursing negligence.

There are four elements that must be established in order for nursing negligence to occur:

  1. A nurse-patient relationship existed
  2. The nurse had a duty to perform an act that was not the responsibility of other personnel
  3. There was a departure from “good and accepted practice” or behavior that a “reasonable” nurse would have had
  4. Patient injury was related to the lack of adherence to care standards

Nursing Negligence vs. Medical Malpractice

While most cases of medical malpractice focus on a healthcare practitioner or physician’s behavior or wrongdoings, nursing negligence can result in medical malpractice.  It may be a standalone problem or a part of a system-wide problem that results in patient injury in a facility.

Nurses who practice separately as practitioners, such as a “Registered Nurse Practitioner”, are separately liable for medical malpractice but nurses who only work under the direct supervision of a physician or other provider may still be negligent.  Many nurses and other health professionals carry liability insurance for cases of error, mistakes or in some cases, negligence.

Nursing Negligence Lawsuits

People who have been injured due to nursing negligence or other medical malpractice, should seek legal advice from an expert qualified in personal injury and medical negligence.  Seeger Weiss’ highly experienced personal injury lawyers can help determine whether a medical negligence or malpractice suit may be helpful.

Read more about Medical Malpractice here.

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