| Read Time: 4 minutes | Medical Malpractice
negligence in nursing

Nurses are a crucial component of most medical facilities, including floor nurses monitoring patients in the hospital, nurse practitioners treating patients at clinics, mobile nurses providing in-home care, and nurse midwives who deliver babies, just to name a few. 

All of these types of nurses, and countless others, are expected to perform their duties within the standard of care. And rightfully so.

A simple mistake could have serious consequences for a patient who is treated improperly, causing physical harm, exacerbating a medical condition, or even fatal injuries.

Those affected by negligence in nursing are often eligible to pursue a legal claim for the damages they have incurred.

An experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have a case and the best legal strategy for seeking fair compensation. To get started, contact us today.

What is Negligence in Nursing?

Negligence in nursing is a form of medical malpractice, the legal theory under which you can seek compensation from a negligent healthcare provider, including nurses.

Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals owe their patients a reasonable and accepted standard of care that includes careful attention to treatment protocols and practices.

These professionals are obligated to ensure patient safety and well-being to the best of their ability and act in a way that would be acceptable to other nurses in similar situations. 

That does not mean a nurse is liable anytime anything goes wrong, as there are inherent risks with virtually all medical treatments and procedures.

But, a nurse should be able to demonstrate that every reasonable precaution was taken to ensure the patient’s safety, and if they are unable to do so, the patient may have a malpractice claim.  

What Are the Elements of Nursing Medical Negligence?

The fact that a treatment did not go as intended is not enough to constitute malpractice. In order to have a valid medical malpractice claim, several foundational elements must be present in your case. 

  • There must be an official medical provider-patient relationship to establish a legal duty of care. Establishing this element typically requires showing the nurse had some responsibility for caring for the patient.
  • The nurse must have acted in a way that resulted in harm. This also includes failure to take action when they should have. 
  • The action or inaction must be a deviation from what a similarly situated nurse would have considered reasonable care. 

Just like doctors, not all nurses have the same specializations or areas of expertise. Generalized education is important, but the profession has different levels of education and specialization.

Whether the person is a registered nurse (RN), a certified nursing assistant (CNA), a nurse practitioner (RNP), a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or any other type of nurse with specialized experience or education, they will be held to the standard of someone with similar training.

So the question becomes, did they act in the same way a competent nurse with a similar level of training would have? If the answer is no, you likely have a valid claim for negligence in nursing. 

Negligence in Nursing Examples

There are many examples of negligence in nursing. The following is not an all-inclusive list but includes some of the most common instances. 

Failure to Monitor

A nurse is often the primary person responsible for monitoring a patient’s condition when hospitalized or otherwise present in a medical facility.

They are often charged with identifying and reporting any worsening changes, and failure to do so could lead to potential problems that may have been preventable. 

Botched Treatment

Nurses are often responsible for providing treatments to patients. In some cases, they may be the provider determining the treatment protocol, which is common for nurse practitioners or other specialized professionals. Failure to perform adequate treatment can result in serious injuries to a patient. 

Medication Errors 

The administration of medication is incredibly important to the health of a patient. A medication error, such as providing incorrect medication timing or dosage or dispensing the wrong prescription entirely, can have serious consequences. Nurses must be diligent in ensuring medication protocol is upheld.

Failure to Provide Routine Care

Nurses are often responsible for providing routine care to patients, such as helping them adjust positions to avoid bedsores or taking brief walks to maintain mobility.

Routine care also includes monitoring hydration, food intake, and bowel movements. Failing to provide routine care can lead to unnecessary injury for patients. 

Failure to Provide Emergency Care

Nurses are often on the front lines in a medical emergency. They are tasked with taking action to stabilize and treat patients, which may include seeking qualified help or providing medical intervention where possible.

A nurse who refuses to offer appropriate assistance may be liable for negligence in nursing. 

Improper Documentation

Maintaining accurate patient records is an important part of a nurse’s job. Failing to make accurate and timely updates to documentation can result in improper treatment of the patient.

Doctors and other medical staff rely on patient records to make informed decisions that impact the health of the patient. 

If you believe that a nurse’s failure to provide sufficient care led to harm or exacerbated an existing condition, it is important to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate the circumstances of your claim. 

Contact a Nursing Medical Negligence Attorney

As a patient, you trust nurses with your health and well-being, assuming that everything they do will be well-thought-out and in your best interest.

When a nurse falls short in carrying out these responsibilities, it can be devastating physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

At the law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico, we understand how difficult it can be to process your experience and make sense of being harmed by a professional healthcare provider.

Let us walk you through the process of determining the strengths of your case, fact-finding, and valuation, and come up with the best legal strategy to get you the compensation you deserve.

We have the trial-tested expertise and results-driven mindset to take on the complexities of your nursing negligence case.

Our team of dedicated attorneys can help you or your loved one get the justice you deserve. Contact us to schedule your case consultation. 

Author Photo

Phil Federico is a partner at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico where he helps lead the Mass Tort / Class Action and Environmental Law practices, transitioning into these areas after beginning his career as a medical malpractice litigator.

Phil has led and been involved in historic and groundbreaking litigation with verdicts and settlements exceeding one billion dollars.

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