Few events mean as much to families and society as the birth of a child. Thus, it is not surprising that the American healthcare system devotes substantial resources to facilitate healthy pregnancies and successful childbirth. In addition to doctors, hospitals, and other elements of the healthcare system, nurses play a vital role in the process.
Most pregnancies turn out successfully, resulting in a healthy mother and the birth of a healthy baby. Unfortunately, however, mistakes are sometimes made. Medical malpractice, including nursing negligence, can cause substantial harm, and even death, to babies and mothers. In this article, we will discuss some of the forms of nursing malpractice that occur, along with a discussion of the rights of those who are harmed.
The Role of Maternity Nurses
While doctors are generally responsible for the actual delivery of a baby, nurses often have more interaction with pregnant mothers in the earlier stages of childbirth. Nurses offer support, education, and encouragement. Some nurses are involved in prenatal care.
Maternity nurses play an important role in monitoring a patient during labor. This includes checking the cervix for dilation and monitoring vital signs of the mother and child. The nurse communicates carefully with the mother, monitors pain and other symptoms, makes medical evaluations, and communicates with doctors. This is especially important if a woman is experiencing complications. Maternity nurses are also often responsible for administering medications.
Examples of Nursing Negligence
Professionals can commit negligence in many ways – both by acting and by failing to act. Below are some common examples of nursing negligence in a maternity context.
- Medication errors: Medication errors can occur in many ways. For example, a busy nurse with multiple patients can give the wrong medication to the wrong patient. Medication errors can also occur when a nurse gives the correct medication in the wrong dosage amount, or fails to give required medication.
- Failure to properly assess condition: Maternity nurses take a variety of vital signs from pregnant mothers and their babies. They also communicate with mothers to obtain information about their conditions. As medical professionals, they are trained to evaluate all of this information and take appropriate steps in response. A nurse can commit malpractice by failing to recognize emergencies or to take the appropriate steps demanded by the circumstances.
- Negligent communication: Negligent communication can arise through either a failure to communicate or communicating information incorrectly. For example, as a nurse monitors a pregnant mother, the nurse may observe signs that suggest fetal distress or other problems that should be immediately communicated to the doctor. Failure to do so can result in harm to the mother and/or child. Similarly, communicating incorrect information to a doctor can result in incorrect treatment and resulting harm.
Rights of Injured Patients
Medical professionals, including nurses, are required to meet the applicable standard of care. If a nurse fails to act as a reasonable nurse would have acted under the same or similar circumstances, the nurse has not met that standard of care. If the nurse’s negligence causes harm to the patient, the patient is entitled to recover appropriate damages.
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death during childbirth or as a result of other medical or nursing malpractice, you will almost certainly have questions about your rights. Medical malpractice cases are usually complicated and require the assistance of expert witnesses and skilled attorneys.
The experienced lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield handle malpractice cases involving medical negligence all around Oregon. Please call us for a free consultation so that we can answer your questions and help you evaluate your rights. We believe that it is essential to hold professionals responsible when they commit malpractice so that all of society will be made safer.