Nursing Mistakes & Negligence
A number of factors are responsible for an increase in negligent medical errors made by nurses in New York and across the country. Nurse shortages and hospital downsizing mean heavier workloads for nurses. Nurses also have more freedom to make decisions at work, including the delegation of some tasks to unlicensed assistants.
More intensive nursing care is often required as patients are discharged earlier from hospitals. In today’s care settings, this often means using advanced technology that some nurses may struggle to master.
Despite greater pressure on nurses, they still owe a duty to provide competent care to each of their patients. Care that falls short of the accepted professional standard for nurses may represent an instance of negligence that could be the subject of a malpractice claim.
Nurses do very important work and in the vast majority of cases contribute to patient well-being. Nursing mistakes, however, may lead to debilitating patient injury and even death. It is natural to ask whether an error made by a nurse could have been avoided and whether that might have improved the patient’s medical outcome.
Not every bad outcome is malpractice, and not every valid malpractice claim results in compensation. However, it costs nothing to have your case investigated and the potential for success in a lawsuit evaluated.
The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP has a long record of holding nurses and hospitals accountable for negligent medical errors. Accomplished trial lawyer Richard Jaffe is intimately involved in every case. He brings to the table 20-plus years of legal experience, demonstrated courtroom skills, a nationwide network of medical experts and unique insights as a trained EMT (emergency medical technician).
Common Negligent Errors Made by Nurses
Table of Contents
According to a report released by the Nurse Services Organization (NSO), the leading types of malpractice claims against nurse practitioners include:
- DIAGNOSIS-RELATED ERRORS – Examples of diagnosis errors made by nurses include failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, and missed diagnosis. A nurse may commit a diagnostic error if he or she fails to order an appropriate diagnostic test, fails to obtain a diagnostic consultation, or fails to address a diagnostic test result to a patient. Diagnostic nursing errors often involve infection, abscess, sepsis, and cancer.
- TREATMENT-RELATED ERRORS – Examples of nursing treatment errors include the failure to properly or timely establish appropriate treatment, improper technique, or negligent performance of treatment or testing, untimely response to a patient’s concerns, and improper management of patient complications.
- MEDICATION ERRORS – Errors involving medication can occur in a number of ways. For instance, a nurse might administer a medication to a patient, unaware that it is known to react adversely with another medication being taken by the patient. A nurse could also administer the wrong medication, or administer the correct medication but the wrong dose.
Other types of nursing negligence include:
- Failure to use equipment properly – Nurses must know how to use all equipment involved in patient care and understand its potential hazards.
- Failure to assess and monitor – A nurse may be held liable for malpractice if, for example, he or she was responsible for monitoring a patient’s post-surgery vital signs and did not properly respond to symptoms of failing health.
- Failure to communicate – Nurses are often responsible for reporting changes in patient health to the physician in charge. This includes communicating new patient symptoms, complaints, or concerns to doctors and other medical professionals. A nurse who does not do so — whether by not communicating at all or by not communicating in a timely manner — may be negligent.
- Failure to document – The standard of care may be breached if a nurse does not thoroughly document the site and mode of care given or communications with other medical staff.
- Failure to act as a patient advocate – Nurses are expected to provide intervention therapy if a patient’s health declines or if they believe that a physician’s order would be harmful to the patient.
- Giving the wrong type of food or drink to a patient –Nurses must be informed about a patient’s dietary restrictions, including the how the intake of certain foods or liquids could interfere with medications or other treatments. Failure to ensure that patient does not receive restricted food and drink could amount to malpractice.
- Failure to take sanitary precautions – Hospitals are by nature a breeding ground for many dangerous types of germs, bacteria, viruses and other infectious diseases. Nurses must take all proper precautions to prevent the spread of contagions to a patient.
Parties Potentially Liable for Nursing Mistakes
The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a federal information clearinghouse that tracks medical malpractice claims, identifies four types of nurses:
- Registered nurses (RNs)
- Licensed nurses (LNs)
- Advanced practice nurses (APRNs)
- Nursing para-professionals
Any of these nurses who were responsible for providing you with care may have breached the duty owed to you if the care deviated from accepted standards.
Other possible defendants in a nursing malpractice case include:
- A student nurse practitioner
- The hospital
- The attending doctor
- Other medical professionals responsible for patient care
Think You May Have a Nursing Malpractice Claim? Talk to us Today
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a nurse’s negligent medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation. It costs you nothing to have your potential lawsuit evaluated. We invite you to tell us exactly what happened to you so that we can determine if your medical malpractice case has merit.
The medical malpractice lawyers at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP work with distinguished medical experts to review cases, select the viable ones and meticulously prepare lawsuits. When we move forward on a case, we do so with full confidence that the claim is just, our client is deserving of compensation and we can demonstrate these facts.
For a free claim evaluation and consultation, call us now or fill out our online contact form. We will respond promptly. We can arrange evening and weekend appointments, and we can come to you.
- American Journal of Nursing – Nurses, Negligence, and Malpractice: An analysis based on more than 250 cases against nurses
- The National Practitioner Data Bank – NPDB Research Statistics
- National Practitioner Data Bank – 2010 Annual Report
- Nurses Service Organization – Nurse Practitioner 2012 Liability Update: A Three-part Approach
- American Nurse Today – Make your nursing care malpractice-proof