Can Nurses Be Sued for Medical Malpractice?

Doctors aren’t the only medical professionals who can be held legally liable for a mistake that injures or kills a patient. Nurses can also be sued if they fail to take a reasonable duty of care when they are treating patients and it results in harm.

Some of the ways nurses can injure patients include:

  • Improper medication administration
  • Providing inadequate care
  • Failing to catch or dropping a newborn after delivery
  • Injuring a patient through improper use of equipment
  • Exposure to infectious blood or fluids
  • Failing to act when action is necessary
  • Failing to report a patient’s condition
  • Failing to correctly read fetal monitor strips

Although it may have been the nurse who caused the injury, in nursing malpractice cases, it may not be the nurse who is legally liable. To discuss the specifics of legal liability in your case, visit Morelli Law Firm. Keep reading to learn more about why nursing malpractice happens and how to prove fault.

Why Nursing Malpractice Happens

Nursing malpractice may be caused by the nurse’s own personal lack of judgment or failure to perform their duties competently. However, there may also be other factors at play that will place the responsibility elsewhere. These include:

Being Overworked

Nurses are often asked to work long hours, leaving them fatigued and unable to adequately perform their duties. When a hospital is poorly managed, it can result in understaffing, leaving exhausted nurses who are responsible for patients’ lives unable to think clearly or focus. In fact, this is one of the main reasons good nurses leave the profession.

Being Underpaid

Many nurses are underpaid. This harms patients for two reasons. One is that the underpaid nurses may be bitter and resentful about the amount of patient care they are expected to provide without being able to make ends meet. The other is the fact that they are often forced to take on extra shifts due to their low salaries.

Who Is Responsible for Nursing Malpractice

In cases where the nurse isn’t responsible for their mistake or where they aren’t the sole responsible party, a doctor or medical facility may also be held liable. The following are reasons a lawsuit might be filed against someone other than the nurse who caused the injury.

The Attending Physician

Whether or not the attending physician should have been able to prevent the nurse from injuring the patient is something that must be decided between the doctor and the hospital. If it can be proven that the doctor was negligent in their supervision, it may be their malpractice insurance that ends up paying the plaintiff’s damages, even in cases where the nurse is technically the medical facility’s employee.

The Medical Facility

In some cases, a nurse who is being supervised by the attending physician may treat patients improperly because they felt pressured to do so by the doctor or hospital. In these cases, both the doctor and medical facility may be held liable for creating the hostile conditions that made the nurse choose to risk patient health instead of risking her job.

How to Prove Nursing Malpractice

Proving malpractice against a nurse is essentially the same as proving malpractice against a physician or hospital. In order to prove nursing malpractice, you must be able to prove that they deviated from the acceptable standard of care when they failed to properly care for their patient. You must also prove that the nurse’s negligent behavior caused the plaintiff’s injury. In addition, you must be able to provide evidence of the damages you suffered as a result.

If you believe that you, your baby, or another loved one was injured as a result of a nurse’s negligence, it’s worth taking the time to reach out to a personal injury attorney. Being compensated for your damages can take a lot of stress off of your family while you’re dealing with recovering.

The Medical Facility

A hospital may be legally and financially responsible for nursing malpractice if:

  • The nurse was an employee of the hospital
  • The nurse was fulfilling a job duty when the patient was injured, and
  • An independent doctor (that is, one not employed by the hospital) was not in control of the nurse.
  • Because most nurses are employees of hospitals, hospitals are frequently a defendant in nursing malpractice cases.

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