Nurses working in the United States spend two to four years studying at an accredited college or university. The time they spend in school includes clinical rotations that let them work with patients before graduating with a nursing degree. All nurses must also pass an extensive examination that ensures that have a good understanding of various medical topics, including medical ethics, types of prescription drugs and how medical professionals treat injuries and medical conditions. Despite the training that they receive, nurses can still be responsible for malpractice or negligence in regards to their patients.
What is Negligence?
A nurse may be negligent when he or she isn’t capable of performing the tasks and duties that other nurses with the same amount of training can perform. The legal definition of negligence also states that nurses are responsible for damages and injuries caused by their lack of action and that nurses are negligent when they do not do the tasks expected of them.
Types of Malpractice
Malpractice can relate to any of the duties that a nurse does on the job, including taking medical histories of patients, using different types of equipment and dispensing medications. One type of nursing malpractice can occur when a nurse gives a smaller or larger amount of medication than the doctor determined. Nurses may also give the medication to a different patient, improperly inject a medication or fail to follow the instructions given by a doctor. Malpractice and negligence cases can also involve a nurse who does not keep an eye on a patient under his or her care and cases where a nurse deliberately or accidentally injures a patient.
Is the Hospital Responsible?
There are some lawsuits where an attorney will recommend that clients the hospital rather than the nurse. The hospital is responsible for the actions of that nurse and for ensuring that nurses do the jobs assigned to them. Hospitals are also responsible for cases that arise after a nurse performs an assigned task. Whether the patient agrees to settle or wants the case to go to trial, the client must show that the nurse received orders and did not follow those orders. They must also show that a doctor formally requested that the nurse perform certain actions in relation to that patient.
Targeting the Attending Doctor
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, the attending doctor may also be responsible for the malpractice or the neglect. There are two things that the client and attorney must prove: that the doctor was on-site at the time and that the doctor had the chance to stop the incident from occurring. For example, a doctor might ask a nurse to lance an abscess on a patient. If the nurse makes an incision in the abscess before administering a numbing agent, the doctor may be responsible for the pain the patient felt. Courts can also hold doctors responsible for the actions that nurses take when working under their supervision during an operation.
Talk with an Attorney
One of the biggest mistakes that a patient can make is not talking with a lawyer in the days following an incident with a nurse in a doctor’s office or a hospital. Most states have a statue of limitations that gives patients a set amount of time to file a lawsuit. After the statue of limitations passes, patients can no longer file. The more time that patients give their lawyers, the more time those attorneys have to find evidence and gather any witnesses to the negligence. Patients can consult with an attorney in their cities for more help.