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What Are the Most Common Causes of Nursing Malpractice?

Many Americans have personally received care from a registered nurse. Nevertheless, due to a number of misconceptions about the nursing profession, not everyone appreciates the level of intelligence, education, and training required to become a registered nurse. Nurses are much more than someone who simply assists a doctor.

Becoming a registered nurse is a serious undertaking. Nurses are highly educated. Then, after completing years of study, registered nurses undergo rigorous testing and training. Ultimately, nurses play a vital role in the delivery of healthcare in the United States.

Of course, the nursing profession also comes with great responsibility. Nurses are routinely involved in complex situations in which their decisions have profound effects on the health and welfare of their patients. Many people owe their health and their lives to the decisions and actions of nurses.

However, when nurses fail to meet the standard of care demanded of their profession, the outcome can be tragic. Malpractice can lead to serious medical harm and even to death. In this article, we will provide a little insight into the nursing profession and discuss some of the most common causes of nursing malpractice.

A Life in Nursing

Though it is filled with challenges and hard work, many nurses love their profession. Nurses are highly paid, highly sought after, and enjoy great job security. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that nursing is America’s largest healthcare profession, with approximately 3.8 million registered nurses in the United States. The AACN cites federal data projecting that more than 200,000 new nurses will be needed yearly from 2016 to 2026. Thus, we can expect nurses to be heavily involved in the healthcare industry for many years to come.

Causes of Nursing Malpractice

Nurses play dynamic roles in healthcare, so the types or malpractice that can occur are wide-ranging. However, some types of nursing malpractice occur more than others. Here, we will provide some common examples and their causes.

  • Communication errors: One of the most common causes of nursing malpractice is incorrect communication, or a failure to communicate. Nurses often spend a lot more time with certain patients than doctors do. Thus, doctors rely on nurses to properly communicate information to them about the patient’s condition. A common error that can be catastrophic is a failure to communicate changes in a patient’s condition. Sometimes, had the doctor known of the change, the doctor would have taken a different action. Another example of poor communication is when a nurse does not adequately explain information to a patient.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue can lead to many different types of malpractice. If nurses are exhausted, they are more likely to make errors in judgment and to perform their jobs improperly. Fatigue can occur in hospitals due to long shifts, unpredictable hours, and changes in schedules. These types of scheduling issues are sometimes associated with hospital work, or may be exacerbated by socio-environmental events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Medication errors: Needless to say, medication errors can have life and death consequences. These errors can occur in numerous ways. Nurses may simply forget to give a patient his or her medication at the appropriate time. Sometimes, medication is given in the wrong dosage. Additionally, medications are sometimes confused and administered to the wrong patient.

Call with Questions

While most Americans have great experiences with nursing care, some people are not so lucky. If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered harm due to the negligence of a nurse, you likely have many questions about your rights. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to answer them for you. We offer free consultations and have helped medical malpractice victims all across the state of Oregon – just give us a call with your questions. We believe that the only way to make society safe for everyone is to hold professionals accountable when their negligence causes harm.