In providing care in a medical facility, a nurse must exercise the same ordinary or reasonable care as all other health practitioners to ensure that no unnecessary harm comes to the patient. Failure to meet this standard subjects nurses to medical malpractice liability.
Nurses Negligence Lawyers
- What Is Medical Malpractice?
- Who Is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
- What Needs to Be Proved in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
- What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims?
- How Difficult Is It to Win a Medical Malpractice Claim?
- Is a Failure to Respond to My Request for Assistance Evidence of Negligence?
- How Is a Nurse’s Performance Evaluated?
- What Must Be Proven in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
- What Are Some Examples of Nursing Malpractice?
- Can Verbal Abuse Be Considered Nursing Malpractice?
- Winning a Medical Malpractice Case
- Do You Need an Attorney Experienced with Medical Malpractice?
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is most commonly associated with doctors making mistakes in treating patients, but the scope of medical malpractice is much larger. In medical malpractice, any treatment, lack of treatment, or other departure from accepted standards of medical care, health care, or safety on the part of a healthcare provider causes harm.
Liability in medical malpractice refers to who is legally responsible for the patient’s injuries. Usually, it is the party that breached their duty of care and caused the patient’s injuries. But in some cases, it can be difficult to tell who the liable parties are.
Who Is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice claims can be brought against any medical provider who contributed to the patient’s injury. The following entities can commit medical malpractice:
- Doctor: The doctor is liable if their actions stray from generally accepted standards of practice
- Hospital: The hospital can be liable for improper care or inadequate training of the healthcare professionals
- Nurses or Other Medical Staff: The nurse or other medical staff that attended to the patient may be held liable if they contributed to the patient’s injury
The hospital can also be liable for the patient’s injury under the respondeat superior theory.
Under this theory, an employer can be held liable for its employee’s negligent act if the employee acted within the scope of their employment when the negligence occurred and has to pay damages and sometimes even punitive damages.
What Needs to Be Proved in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice claims must satisfy all of the following requirements in order to be successful:
- Injury: The doctor or health care provider caused an injury to the patient.
- It is very difficult to prove this. Your health was probably not the best when you first saw the doctor, and you lacked the medical expertise to prove the injury connection. You will probably need an expert witness to testify on your behalf to prove that the doctor’s actions or inactions caused your injury.
- Negligence: Carelessness on behalf of the doctor or healthcare provider.
- You must show that the medical treatment fell below the “accepted standard of care.”
- The test for “accepted standard of care” is generally what a reasonable healthcare professional in your community would do in similar circumstances.
- Statute of limitations: The time limit when you must bring a claim.
- The time limit for filing medical malpractice claims varies from 1-7 years, depending on your state.
What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims?
Examples of medical malpractice claims are:
- Failure to diagnose
- Improper treatment
- Delay in treatment
- Loss of chance
- Prescription errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Improper surgery
- Failure to properly explain a medical procedure or potential side effects
How Difficult Is It to Win a Medical Malpractice Claim?
There is a great deal of difficulty in pursuing medical malpractice claims. Most medical malpractice cases are very expensive because they involve numerous expert witnesses and complicated facts. In most cases, doctors are reluctant to admit mistakes and they often have the resources to fight lawsuits. There are also many state limits on medical malpractice awards. Many clients hire lawyers to provide the expertise to win a medical malpractice case.
Due to the power and resources that hospitals and doctors have in the health industry. Many states may require plaintiffs to file what is commonly known as a “certificate of merit” before they can begin a malpractice suit against a healthcare professional. A plaintiff must first have an expert review the relevant medical records and certify that the plaintiff’s healthcare provider may have committed malpractice to file a certificate of merit.
Is a Failure to Respond to My Request for Assistance Evidence of Negligence?
Failure to respond to a patient’s request for assistance or general absence during a work shift can be grounds for medical malpractice. Courts have held that if a patient is injured due to a nurse’s failure to respond to a request for assistance or because a nurse on duty was absent, then the nurse has committed malpractice by violating the duty of care she owed to the injured patient.
How Is a Nurse’s Performance Evaluated?
The standard of care required of a nurse is measured by the degree of care ordinarily exercised by other nurses in similar circumstances. Not every act of a nurse that appears to be negligent will make the nurse liable. If the action or inaction of the nurse is typical of what other nurses would have done in the same situation, then the nurse will not be deemed to have violated her duty of care.
What Must Be Proven in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In a medical malpractice case based on negligence by a nurse, the injured person must establish all of the following:
- The standard of care applicable to the nurse,
- The duty owed by the nurse to the patient,
- Demonstration that the nurse violated their duty by failing to meet that standard of care, and
- That the patient was injured and prove that the injury resulted from the nurse’s negligence.
What Are Some Examples of Nursing Malpractice?
Some common examples of acts that might constitute nursing malpractice include:
- Failure to take action or make a report when required to do so: A common example is where the nurse fails to notify a doctor when a patient has fallen to the ground
- Injuring the Patient: This commonly occurs in connection with medical equipment, such as accidentally piercing the patient with a sharp tool or accidentally dropping a heavy object on them
- Improperly Administering Medicines: This can involve a range of negligent acts, such as administering the wrong medicine, giving a patient the wrong dose, inserting an IV at the wrong time, etc.
Nursing malpractice lawsuits may also involve actions that don’t directly involve contact with the patient. It may be considered negligence if a patient’s medical equipment is knocked over. Another example is when a nurse abandons their shift in the middle of treatment to take a phone call.
Can Verbal Abuse Be Considered Nursing Malpractice?
In a nursing malpractice lawsuit, verbal and non-physical acts are much more difficult to prove. When a nurse verbally abuses a patient, they may be liable for inflicting emotional distress. This is becoming especially common in cases involving nursing home abuse. An example is when a nurse repeatedly speaks harshly to a patient or is constantly yelling at them.
However, to succeed on a claim for infliction of emotional distress, it usually needs to be shown that the verbal abuse resulted in some form of physical injury to the patient – for example, if a nurse yells at a patient and triggers a heart attack in the patient. If a patient dislikes how a nurse speaks to them, it will be much more difficult to prevail in a lawsuit, as malpractice requires that the patient’s losses or damages be measurable.
Winning a Medical Malpractice Case
It is very difficult to bring a medical malpractice claim. Most medical malpractice cases are very expensive because they involve many expert medical witnesses and complex facts.
Professionals in the medical field are often reluctant to admit errors, and they have the financial resources to defend themselves against lawsuits. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be long and costly, but a great lawyer can help you assert your rights in the face of adversity.
Do You Need an Attorney Experienced with Medical Malpractice?
Suppose you, or a loved one, have been injured by a nurse’s medical malpractice. In that case, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about the value of your case and what types of recoveries are available to you. A lawyer can assist you in determining what actions to take in response to the malpractice and represent your interests in court.
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