Almost everyone has interacted with a nurse at some point, whether resulting from our own hospitalization or the illness or care of a loved one. It’s usually immediately apparent that these professionals are hard-working, intelligent, and well-trained. In fact, nurses are often the face of the medical team with whom we deal the most.
Clearly, nurses carry great responsibilities, and patients are usually appreciative and happy with the care they receive. But as with all professions, nurses sometimes make mistakes. When that happens, the results can range from inconsequential to devastating. In the worst circumstances, patients can even die.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common forms of nursing malpractice.
The Importance of Nursing in Oregon and Across America
In Europe, records of nurses date back as far as the Roman Empire, and we suspect they have existed since the earliest times of society! In fact, there is evidence that a nursing school was established in India in 250 B.C.
Today, there are more than 3 million nurses in the United States alone. The number of nurses in America has increased by 24.1 percent just in the 2000s.
Nurses receive rigorous training, are well-paid, and now average more than $100,000 per year in salaries. While we often associate nurses with hospitals, approximately 40 percent of nurses work in non-hospital health care settings.
Moreover, nurses, just like doctors, can be highly specialized. While there are dozens of specialties, a few common specializations are listed below:
- Cardiac Care Nurse
- Trauma Nurse
- Labor and Delivery Nurse
- Critical Care Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Surgical Nurse
- Obstetrics Nurse
- Geriatric Nurse
- Pulmonary Care Nurse
- Neonatal Nurse
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Home Care Nurse
Common Nursing Malpractice Mistakes Made in the Nursing Profession
As evidenced by the list of nursing specializations above, nurses find themselves in many different situations with varying responsibilities, depending on their specialty. With their high level of training and above-average pay come high standards, which unfortunately sometimes are not met. Below are some common forms of nursing malpractice.
- Medication Errors – These errors can arise in a number of different ways. Sometimes a nurse gives the medicine to the wrong patient. Other times, nurses simply provide the wrong medicine. Another common mistake is to provide the patient with the correct medication, but in the incorrect strength or dosage. In other instances, the medication is administered incorrectly. Medication errors can cause severe personal injury.
- Using Machines and Medical Devices Incorrectly – Just like in every other part of society, technology and innovation have greatly impacted the medical and nursing professions. That means that nurses are responsible for operating and using more machines and medical devices than ever. Using machines improperly can cause harmful medical outcomes to the patient.
- Patient Falls – Falls are not unusual in hospitals and other environments in which nurses work. Hospital patients are often weak as a result of their medical conditions. Thus, getting up, even to go to the bathroom, can result in a fall. Medical care providers have protocols to use when helping a patient get out of bed and ambulate. Failure to properly follow the protocols can result in falls and devastating personal injury. Additionally, failure to properly monitor a patient can result in a patient improperly attempting to get out of bed without assistance.
- Documentation and Charting Errors – Properly documenting a patient’s circumstances, along with the care received, is an essential part of medical treatment. Miscommunication or failure to record important information poses serious risks. For example, failure to properly record a patient’s allergies and other medications can result in harmful medication errors. Or consider a nurse who fails to properly record a major change in a patient’s condition. This failure could prevent a doctor who reviews the information from properly diagnosing the situation.
Call with Questions
At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys have great respect for the nursing profession and all medical care providers. However, when any professional’s negligence causes injury to a victim, society demands that the professional be held accountable. This helps protect us all.
If you have been injured as a result of nursing malpractice, or you just have questions, give us a call and we will be happy to help.