A nurse may provide care to a patient in a negligent manner. If the patient sustains an injury due to the provision of care in a negligent manner, the patient may have a claim for damages. This claim is known as a nursing injury claim. Nursing is provided in various settings and administered in patient homes, doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities.
In most states, a nursing injury claim is a type of medical malpractice claim. Nursing injury claims may arise from negligent errors in the administration of care, medication, patient preparation, patient advice, and patient handling.
What are Some Examples of Injuries Resulting from Nursing?
Nursing injury claims can arise from nursing errors made before, during, or after patient treatment. Common nursing injury claims include:
- Improperly preparing a patient for surgery or another medical procedure.
- Failing to lift or move a patient properly.
- Failure to properly administer anesthesia or to properly assist in its administration
- Failing to use care while performing a medical procedure.
- Failing to properly attend to a patient after treatment, such as by leaving a foreign object used during a procedure in or on a patient’s body.
- Failing to administer the correct drug or to administer a drug in the correct amount.
- Failing to dress or treat wounds or other injuries properly may result in infection.
- Clerical errors, such as entering inaccurate information into a patient’s medical record.
If a patient can prove that one or more of these things occurred, the patient may have a nursing injury claim. To prevail on such a claim, the patient must prove that the nurse acted negligently. To do this, the patient must first demonstrate that the nurse, nursing assistant, or nurse practitioner in making the mistake, owed the patient a duty of care to act with professional competence and skill. The patient must then show that the nurse breached this duty, and that the breach was the proximate, or legal cause, of the patient’s injuries.
To recover money damages in a lawsuit against the nurse, the patient must also prove that they incurred losses, such as missed work or surgical care to correct the nurse’s error, which warrants compensation. Compensation is in the form of monetary damages.
Is There Such a Thing as Nursing Malpractice?
Most states allow individuals to sue for injuries stemming from negligent nursing. State medical malpractice laws allow patients to bring these claims. Claims may be brought against the nurse and the hospital where the injury occurred.
Nurses are often employed by the hospital where they administer care. If a nurse who is an employee of a hospital is negligent while providing patient care, the hospital may bear legal responsibility for the nurse’s negligence. For the hospital to be liable, the patient must demonstrate that the nurse acted within the scope of their employment while performing a negligent medical procedure or other act. The type of legal liability the hospital has is called vicarious liability.
Under this type of liability, an employer, here the hospital, can be held liable for the negligent acts of its employees, including nurses. Under vicarious liability, both the nurse and the hospital may be sued for medical malpractice. If the patient is unable to recover damages from the nurse, they may be able to recover damages from the hospital.
A hospital can be independently liable for a nurse’s malpractice as well. The hospital may have failed to conduct sufficient background screening on a particular nurse. If proper screening had revealed the nurse had a record of incompetence or was otherwise unqualified, the patient might sue the hospital under a negligent screening, negligent hiring, or negligent retention claim.
If the nurse caused a patient’s injury while using a hospital device that the hospital failed to keep in adequate repair, the patient might sue the hospital for failing to keep its equipment in working order.
Can a Hospital Physician be Liable for A Nurse’s Negligence?
In some instances, the nurse is providing care under the supervision of an attending physician at a hospital. The attending physician may be liable for the nurse’s negligent acts under certain circumstances. If the physician was present when the negligent act or omission occurred and could prevent the negligence from happening, the doctor might be liable for negligent supervision.
For a patient to sue a doctor for negligent supervision, the patient must show that the hospital physician had control to prevent the negligent activity but failed to exercise that control.
An example of when a doctor exercises negligent supervision is when a nurse, under the doctor’s supervision, improperly administers a medication, injuring a patient. Since an attending physician is responsible for supervising all aspects of a procedure or surgery, the attending physician must properly supervise the nurse. This means the physician must ensure that the nurse gives the patient the proper type or amount of medicine.
Sometimes, the hospital, doctor, and nurse may all be liable for negligence. A doctor may give a nurse improper instructions. If the nurse followed these instructions, even if they knew or should have known the instructions were improper, the nurse acted negligently. The doctor acted negligently by giving improper instructions. The hospital may also be liable if the hospital knew or should have known that the doctor might provide improper instructions.
A hospital may be liable when it negligently hires, supervises, or trains a physician. If the hospital, doctor, and nurse are all liable, the patient may sue one or all of them. Each is considered legally responsible for the patient’s injury, and each may be financially responsible.
When Else May There Be Nursing Malpractice?
Sometimes, a nurse is not employed by a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional or institution. A nurse may be self-employed. If a self-employed nurse acts negligently, the nurse alone is generally liable for resulting patient injuries.
In other instances, nurses may be employees of assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, or adult day care centers that provide medical care. The rules regarding liability of the nurse and the facility are the same as those that apply when the employer is a hospital. An assisted living center, skilled nursing facility, adult day care center, outpatient facility, or specialist, who employs a nurse, may be liable for the nurse’s negligent acts if the facility did not adequately supervise the nurse.
Or, the facility may be liable for the nurse’s negligent acts if the facility negligently hired or retained the nurse. In these situations, the nurse is liable. The facility is liable in addition to the nurse, and may have to bear financial responsibility for damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Filing a Nursing Injury Claims?
If you believe you have suffered injury due to negligent nursing, you should contact a personal injury attorney near you. Nursing injury claims can be complex and may require the assistance of a lawyer who can provide guidance with your case.
An experienced personal injury lawyer near you can review the facts of your case. The attorney can advise you as to what claims you may be able to bring against the nurse in a lawsuit. The lawyer can also represent you in settlement and court proceedings.