While most people think of errors made by doctors when medical malpractice is mentioned, nurses can also act negligently on the job in a way that causes harm to a patient. Nurses are typically not held personally liable for their mistakes on the job, but patients who have been harmed by negligence will need to establish who should be held liable for the situation.
What is Nursing Malpractice?
Nurses are bound to provide care for their patients in order to prevent harm. In the case that a nurse cannot provide adequate care because of a lack of knowledge or skill, nurses are required to notify a doctor about the need for care immediately in order to prevent serious consequences for the patient.
Another area of malpractice involving nurses is a failure to administer the proper medication. Medication that is needed for treatment of a condition could be completely forgotten, delayed long enough to cause harm to the patient or administered in the incorrect dosage.
Nurses who are assisting during surgery could cause harm to the patient by leaving instruments in the patient following a surgery or allowing a patient to fall because of a failure to ask for help when lifting the patient.
Liability in Nursing Malpractice Cases
When medical malpractice occurs because of the actions of a nurse, the question of who should be held liable for negligence is often asked.
Hospitals are typically held liable when a nurse is acting as an employee of the hospital. This is particularly true when the doctor who was supervising the nurse is also considered an employee of the hospital. The hospital is in charge of both of the professionals in this case, so any negligence on the part of the employees of the hospital is likely to make the hospital liable.
However, doctors may be held liable if they are present and supervising the nurse when negligence occurs. If the doctor had the ability to observe the negligent act and failed to take control of the situation, the doctor will be held liable. This is true whether or not the doctor and nurse are employees of a hospital.
Expert Testimony in Nursing Malpractice Cases
Patients who have been harmed because of nursing malpractice often need to rely on expert testimony in order to build a case. It must be established that any other competent nurse would not have acted the same way in the same situation. Patients are also required to prove that the negligent act resulted in harm. If negligence does not result in harm to the patient, courts will establish that nursing malpractice did not occur.
Expert testimony is not always needed, but negligence must be apparent for patients to be able to forego expert testimony in establishing their case.
Getting Help with Nursing Malpractice
Nursing malpractice laws vary according to state, and these laws can be difficult to understand for a person who does not have a background in legal matters. Because of the complicated legal process of establishing that nursing malpractice occurred, it is important for patients to hire a legal representative. The first step in filing a nursing malpractice lawsuit is calling a law office for a free consultation. Consultations require no obligation, and patients are able to receive basic guidance for filing a lawsuit during the consultation.