When a nurse does not competently perform their medical responsibilities which then causes harm to the patient, it is considered nursing malpractice. There are many ways in which a nurse can cause their patient harm. It can vary from providing the patient the wrong medicine to not notifying a doctor when an error occurs. In nursing malpractice cases, one of the key issues is to decide who is liable for the nurse’s actions: either the hospital or the doctor. Whoever is found liable will be responsible for providing the patient with compensation for the nurse’s actions, which is something to discuss with a medical malpractice attorney residents rely on.
How does nursing malpractice happen?
Nursing malpractice takes place when a nurse does not fulfill their responsibilities in such a way that a competent nurse in the same circumstance would. Their negligence would then injure the patient. Nursing malpractice happens in multiple ways, some of the most common include:
- Not saying or doing something when action is needed
Nurses are the frontline for their patient most of the time. A nurse may be responsible if a patient has an emergency suddenly and the nurse does not take the appropriate steps. These steps could involve providing medication or calling someone for help.A nurse is also responsible for monitoring their patient’s condition. If the nurse sees something of concern or should have noticed something of concern, the nurse could be liable for medical malpractice if they do not notify the doctor.
- Injuring a patient
A nurse will be responsible for malpractice if they injure their patient with medical equipment. This can occur in multiple ways, for instance, if they knock something heavy onto the patient, if they burn the patient, or if they leave a sponge in a patient after a surgery.
- Administering medication improperly
A common task for a nurse is providing a patient medication per the doctor’s orders. If the nurse does not follow the directions, they can be held liable for malpractice if the patient gets injured. The nurse could also be held responsible if they inject the medication in the wrong place or give the wrong medicine to a patient.
Nursing Malpractice Liability
A key issue in a nursing malpractice case is deciding who is responsible for the nurse’s negligent acts: the attending doctor or the hospital.
A hospital could be financially and legally liable for nursing malpractice if any of the following occur:
- The hospital employed the nurse
- The nurse was doing their job responsibility when the patient got hurt
- An independent doctor was not in control of the nurse
Overall, most nurses are employed by the hospital so hospitals are regularly a defendant in malpractice cases.
The Attending Doctor
The hospital may not be responsible if an attending doctor was monitoring the nurse. It depends on a few different factors if the nurse was under the doctor’s supervision when the injury occured:
- If the doctor was present
- If the doctor was in control and could have prevented the nurse’s negligence
Whether the doctor could have controlled the nurse when the injury took place is a common debate between the hospital and doctor. It does not matter if the doctor could have controlled the nurse to decide whether the patient will receive compensation, it just decides who will be paying their compensation.