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Are Patients at Growing Risk for Nursing Mistakes?

Doctors are not the only medical professionals who make mistakes. In fact, medical errors among nurses have grown in recent years. Nursing shortages, a rise in temporary workers and longer hours may all play a part in the rise in nursing malpractice.

Common nursing errors include failing to administer the correct dose of medication or injuring a patient while performing a medical procedure. When nurses fail to adhere to the appropriate standard of care and cause harm to the patient, it is possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Proving nursing malpractice

Nursing malpractice is generally defined as an act or omission by a nurse that deviates from the accepted standards of care in the nursing or medical community. Standards of care can come from a number of sources, professional nursing associations, hospital policies and procedures and federal regulators.

Investigating and litigating nursing malpractice actions can be complicated. In order to be successful, victims must prove the following four elements:

  • The medical professional (nurse, doctor, etc.) owed a duty of care to the patient
  • The medical professional violated the applicable standard of care
  • The patient suffered a compensable injury
  • The injury was caused by the substandard conduct

Common nursing mistakes

Nurses perform many essential functions at health care facilities, including running tests, administering drugs and communicating with patients. As a result, nursing mistakes can take many forms. Below are a few common examples:

  • Communication breakdowns, such as failing to provide adequate information to the doctor
  • Improper patient assessments, such as failing to recognize a patient in distress
  • Substandard nursing care, such as failing to correctly insert a catheter
  • Medication errors, such as failing to administer the correct dosage
  • Violations of infection control procedures, such as failing to use sterile equipment

Responsibility for nursing errors

When a nurse makes a mistake, the hospital and supervising physician may also be held liable. For instance, if a doctor was supposed to be supervising the nurse when the mistake happened, the doctor may have also acted negligently. Similarly, if the nurse was performing a job duty when the mistake occurred, the hospital can also be held accountable.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a nursing mistake or other medical error, you may be entitled to compensation, such as pain and suffering damages and reimbursement of medical expenses. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.