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The Consequences of Malpractice Nursing

consequences of malpractice nursing

Healthcare professionals are held to a higher standard of care than the general public. Whether it is a doctor, nurse, or other health care worker, their malpractice can have severe consequences for those involved and their patients.

Nursing professionals have the most hands-on interaction with patients. From using medical equipment to administering medications, nurses must ensure that they perform their duties accurately and safely.

In addition to the potential for legal action, malpractice can lead to severe physical damage or even death for a patient. It is also important to note that nursing negligence does not always involve intentional harm or misconduct; it may occur simply due to a lack of knowledge or training.

To give you a better perspective, we’ve compiled some of the consequences of malpractice in nursing, examples of nursing malpractice, and ways to help avoid malpractice.

What is Nursing Malpractice?

Nursing malpractice is any action or omission by a nurse that harms a patient. Due to nurse negligence, a patient may suffer physical, psychological, or financial damages. 

Examples of Nursing Malpractice

Here are a few examples to help you understand what medical malpractice law considers malpractice.

Failing to Properly Monitor Patients

One of the many responsibilities of a nurse is to monitor the patient. A nurse must regularly check vital signs, report any changes in condition, and ensure they administer proper care. When a nurse fails to monitor a patient properly and the patient’s condition worsens, it can be considered malpractice.

Untimely Medication Administration

Untimely or wrong medication administration can have serious consequences for a patient. If a medication is given too late or the wrong type of medication, this could lead to an adverse reaction. This is critical as patients that need medication should be given it promptly and correctly. A wrong dosage, medication error, or not consulting a doctor before administering medication can also be considered malpractice.

Misreading Lab Results

Lab results are where nurses are given their patients’ medical records. A nurse should be skilled in accurately reading and interpreting these results to ensure that the patient receives proper care. Not having enough knowledge or being unable to identify an abnormal result can be medical malpractice if it leads to harm.

Failing to Call a Physician When Needed

Another nurse’s responsibility is to report any signs of illness or worsening condition. Aside from medication errors, failing to contact a physician immediately can be considered medical malpractice due to having a standard where a nurse should seek help when a patient is in need.

Use of Incorrect Abbreviations on Medical Records

Another typical example of nursing negligence is when nurses use incorrect abbreviations in the documentation. An abbreviation can be misunderstood or mistyped, leading to an incorrect medication being administered or the wrong patient receiving treatment. Abbreviations are widely used in medical terms, and a nurse needs to know the correct abbreviation for each medication or procedure.

Failing to Feed and Hydrate Patients

Nurses are responsible for providing patients with meals, fluids, and other nourishing substances in nurse-patient relationships. Once admitted, schedules should be followed to ensure proper nourishment for the patient. A nurse failing to do this could result in malnutrition or dehydration and can be considered malpractice if the patient’s health is affected.

Types of Injuries or Illnesses That May Result From Nursing Malpractice

Medical malpractice victims may suffer many injuries and illnesses due to nursing negligence. To give you an idea of what nursing malpractice cases involve, here are some of the most common injuries or illnesses resulting from malpractice.

Physical Injuries

Physical injuries can be anything from broken bones to internal bleeding. Injuries resulting from nursing negligence can be caused by falls, improper handling, and other physical trauma that the nurse should have prevented.

Emotional and Psychological Injuries

Emotional injuries take a toll on the patient and their family members. Emotional injuries can be caused by a nurse’s failure to properly treat a patient and cause them undue stress and mental anguish. Psychological injuries may include anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This type of injury can cause severe anxiety and psychological trauma, which may require treatment and can be a lengthy and costly process.

Infections

If not careful and vigilant, a nurse can easily pass on an infection to a patient. This is especially true for certain highly contagious infections and may result in serious health complications that could have been avoided if caught early. In some instances where a patient suffered from a physical injury and left an open wound, not properly cleaning the wound can lead to an infection.

Allergic Reactions

While patient safety is the priority of every healthcare facility, there are times when nurses fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from mild to life-threatening. Improper record-keeping or failing to adequately check a patient’s medical history can also result in an allergic reaction that could have been avoided.

Permanent Damage to Organs

Devastating consequences can occur if a nurse fails to diagnose and treat a patient properly. In some cases, permanent damage can be done to organs such as the brain or heart, potentially causing death. A medical error or medical negligence such as this can be catastrophic and have lifelong effects on the patient.

Wrongful Death

In extreme cases, wrongful death can occur due to nursing malpractice. This type of medical error can involve medication errors, misdiagnoses of a medical condition, or failure to monitor a patient’s vital signs properly. Wrongful death claims are typically very difficult for family members as it is impossible to put a price on losing a loved one.

No matter what type of injury or illness you suffer due to nursing malpractice, it is important to remember that you have rights as a patient and should seek legal help if you feel that your rights have been violated. A medical malpractice attorney that is familiar with the state’s nurse practice act and breach of duty laws can help you understand your rights and advise you on how to proceed with a legal case.

Make sure to contact a law firm with expertise in medical malpractice cases as soon as possible following the incident, as the statute of limitations for filing a claim may be limited.

How to File a Claim if You Believe You Have Been a Victim of Nursing Malpractice

If you believe that you or someone else has been the victim of a nurse’s malpractice or attending doctor’s negligence, you have the right to file a claim against the health care providers and medical facility.

When filing a claim, it is important to provide as much information as possible about the incident and any evidence that may be available, such as medical records or witness statements. The more detailed your case is, the stronger it will be in court.

Get Medical Care From Other Providers

To avoid nursing negligence and further injury, seek medical attention from other healthcare providers. This will be a good choice when you experience or suffer from any symptoms related to the incident. Ensure your insurance covers your new attending doctor, physician, or nurse. This is to avoid any additional cost to you.

Gather Evidence

Collect as much evidence as possible such as medical records, medical bills, doctor’s notes, witness statements, photographs of the injury or illness you suffered due to malpractice, and other relevant information. All these can help you build a strong case. Any discrepancies between what is recorded in the medical record and what happened should also be documented.

Keep Detailed Records

Document all conversations, dates, and events associated with the incident. This includes any correspondence between you and the healthcare provider or facility. Also, keep a record of any medical treatments prescribed due to malpractice. Remember that a malpractice claim can also cover non-economic damages, so you should be ready to provide evidence of any physical, emotional, or mental suffering you experienced.

File a Complaint With the Local State Board of Nursing or Licensing Agency

Don’t try to handle a nursing malpractice case on your own. Instead, file a complaint with the local state board of nursing or licensing agency as soon as possible. They can investigate the incident and potentially take action against the healthcare provider or facility if they are found to violate any laws or regulations.

Call a Malpractice Attorney

It is wise to contact an experienced attorney who has the necessary expertise in medical malpractice law. They will give you a better understanding of the legal process and your rights as a victim of nursing malpractice. The attorney can also help you pursue any claims or damages that you may be entitled to if the incident results in any physical, emotional, or financial losses.

Remember, when filing a claim for nursing malpractice, it is important to act quickly. Every state has a statute of limitations for filing a claim, and waiting too long may mean your case will be dismissed. Also, the legal process can take some time, so you should go ahead and pursue your claim as soon as possible to get the best outcome.

Potential Consequences for a Nurse or Hospital Found Guilty of Malpractice

If found that nursing negligence was the direct cause of any injury, illness, or death, they can face serious repercussions. Every state’s Board of Nursing has disciplinary guidelines, but the following can happen generally.

The Nurse Can Lose Their Nursing License

In most cases where the nursing practice is found to have caused injury, illness, or death, the nurse can be suspended or have their license permanently revoked. If not revoked, fines, public reprimands, mandated continuing education, and probation may occur.

Nurses Can Be Fired by Their Employers

Another potential consequence of nursing malpractice is termination from the job. Depending on the severity and outcome of the incident, nurses can be immediately fired or have their employment terminated later.

Hospitals May Face Financial Losses

When nursing malpractice occurs, not only can the nurse’s name be tarnished, but the hospital or healthcare facility can also suffer financial losses. Depending on the state, hospitals may have to pay for additional necessary medical treatments due to the malpractice and any legal fees that may arise from it. Hospitals may also face public scrutiny if their reputation is damaged, leading to fewer patients and potential financial losses.

Criminal Charges May Be Filed Against the Nurse or Hospital

If a patient’s injury or death is caused by nursing malpractice and it is found that the nurse or healthcare facility was negligent in their duties, criminal charges can be filed against them. This could lead to jail time for those found guilty and hefty fines and other penalties depending on the state’s laws.

What Covers a Nursing Malpractice Claim

It is important to note that the state’s malpractice laws vary from one state to another, which can affect the damages you are eligible for. Generally, a nursing malpractice claim can cover economic and non-economic damages. To help you understand more about what covers a nursing malpractice claim, here are some of the most common damages that may be covered.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to cover any financial losses (past, present, and future) that result from the malpractice incident.

  • Medical bills: These are all of the bills associated with any necessary medical treatments as a result of the malpractice and any additional treatments or medications needed. This includes past and future medical expenses.
  • Loss of past and future earnings: In some cases, the patient may be unable to work due to an injury or illness caused by nursing malpractice. Economic damages can help cover any lost wages and future earnings that may have been lost if the victim cannot continue with their job.
  • Loss of employment opportunities: In some cases, the victim may be prevented from getting certain job opportunities due to injury or illness. This type of damage can help cover this loss of potential income.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to the emotional pain and suffering a victim may have suffered due to nursing malpractice. This can include:

  • Pain and suffering: This type of damage is intended to cover any physical or mental pain the victim suffers due to the negligent actions of another person. With nursing malpractice, this can be a serious matter, as the victim may have sustained physical or mental trauma.
  • Loss of consortium: This type of damage is intended to cover any loss of companionship that the victim may have suffered due to their injury or illness. Given that nursing malpractice can result in permanent disability or death, this type of damage can be extremely important to patients.
  • Loss of enjoyment in life: In some cases, victims can be awarded damages for their loss of enjoyment in life due to their injury or illness. This is intended to help cover any losses a person may have incurred due to their inability to participate in activities they once enjoyed before their injury or illness. This can be anything from hobbies to other recreational activities.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in cases where a person has intentionally and recklessly acted negligently or maliciously. These damages may be awarded to further punish the wrongdoer for their actions and deter future negligent behavior. Depending on the state law, punitive damages can sometimes be available in nursing malpractice claims.

How Nursing Malpractice Can Be Avoided

If you suspect that you or your loved one were the victims of nursing malpractice, you should speak with an experienced nursing malpractice attorney. Not only will they be able to properly evaluate your case and determine whether you have a valid claim, but they can also provide expert legal advice throughout the entire process.

There’s no telling when nursing malpractice may occur, especially because much of the issue can come from a lack of knowledge or experience. However, there are certain steps that nurses and healthcare facilities can take to help minimize the chances of any nursing negligence.

Follow All Protocols

While this is the standard that all nurses should follow, it is essential to ensure that all protocols and procedures are followed to avoid malpractice. This means following every step for treatments, medications, and other duties as outlined by their superiors.

Have Clear Communication

Communication is vital. Doctor to nurse and nurse to patient, whichever the case may be, it is important to ensure that the communication between all parties is clear and concise. Miscommunication between these entities can lead to an improper diagnosis or treatment plan, which can contribute to nursing malpractice.

Double-check Medications

When administering medications, nurses need to double-check any orders from the doctor. This is to ensure that the patient receives the correct type and dosage of medication, as any mistakes can lead to severe injury or even death.

The list can go on, but the most important thing to remember is that nursing malpractice incidents can be minimized if nurses and healthcare facilities are vigilant in their practices. With knowledge, experience, and care, these cases can become few and far between.

Contact The Pagan Law Firm Today

No one should have to suffer from any medical malpractice. But, if you or a loved one have been the victims of nursing malpractice, know that you have someone in your corner. The Pagan Law Firm is here to help you every step of the way, from evaluating your case and filing a claim to communicating with insurance companies and getting you compensation. We have hardworking and honest attorneys ready to work for you.

Contact us today for a free consultation.