While many people have an image of nurses as doting caregivers who are at our bedside attending to our needs when we are ill or in pain, nurses, just like doctors or any other professional can make mistakes, too. When a nurse’s mistake can be shown to have been negligent, causing injury to the patient, a nurse can be sued for medical malpractice.
In the same way that doctors are held to a certain standard of care, so are nurses. A nurse is beholden to perform their job in the same way any other nurse in a comparable situation might be expected to. When a nurse’s action or failure to act in keeping with the standard of care for his or her specialty, he or she may be held legally responsible for the outcome of negligence when it results in injury. Of course, there are often bad outcomes that are not the result of negligence. When something bad happens but is not caused by a mistake, a patient cannot bring a lawsuit.
Common instances of nursing malpractice include:
- Failure to follow the accepted standard of care
- Failure to use equipment properly
- Failure to document
- Failure to monitor and assess patient
- Failure to communicate with other members of the medical team
Proving nursing malpractice
There are four basic elements to a nursing malpractice case, and they are the same elements that are applied to any medical malpractice case:
- Standard of care –A nurse owes a duty to uphold the accepted standard of care and to keep the patient’s environment safe.
- Breach of duty –When a nurse fails to uphold the expected duty of care for her patient.
- Causation –In order to prevail in a nursing malpractice action, you must be able to draw a direct line of cause and effect between the nurse’s action or inaction and the injury.
- Damages–The patient’s injury can be proven to be a direct result of the nurse’s malpractice.
In a case where the nurse owed the patient a duty of care, in breaching that duty the nurse’s action or inaction can be proven to have caused the patient’s injury, then the patient may be able to file a nursing malpractice lawsuit against the nurse, the attending physician who was supervising, and the hospital that employed the nurse.
While anyone who has spent time in the hospital as a patient knows that a good nurse is a life saver, even good nurses can make life-altering mistakes such as administering the wrong dose of medication, inadvertently switching medications, misusing equipment or failing to properly monitor a patient at a critical time. When a patient suffers a preventable medical error at the hands of a nurse, there is legal recourse that allows them to recover financial compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering and other losses. A Washington, D.C. nursing malpractice attorney from Paulson & Nace, PLLC is ready to help. Please call 202-463-1999 or fill out our contact form to learn more.
For more than 40 years, Barry J. Nace has worked to protect the rights of victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. Throughout his career, he has proven that multimillion-dollar awards are not a matter of luck, but the result of experience, hard work, outstanding trial skills, and an unquestioned dedication to justice. To date, Mr. Nace has produced dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million with three in excess of $30 million. Read more about Barry J. Nace.