Medical malpractice is negligence by a health care provider that results in harm to a patient. Nursing malpractice is negligence performed specifically by a nurse. If you are a victim of nursing malpractice, you have the right to take legal action to collect damages. However, you will probably take this action against the doctor or hospital who supervised or employed the nurse.
What Forms Does Nursing Malpractice Take?
Any negligent behavior that is not up to the usual standard of the nursing profession may be considered malpractice. However, nursing malpractice frequently takes several specific forms:
- Improper medication administration
- Injuring a patient with equipment
- Failing to say or do something when action is required
Improper medication administration is an act of commission. In other words, the patient comes to harm because of something that the nurse does, e.g., gives too much or too little medication, giving the wrong medication, etc. The third form of malpractice is an act or omission. In other words, the patient comes to harm because the nurse should have done something but didn’t.
Injuring a patient with equipment may be an act of either omission or commission. It is an act of omission if a nurse fails to remove a sponge from the patient’s body during surgery. It is an act of commission if a nurse knocks a heavy object onto a patient.
Who is Liable for Nursing Malpractice?
The legal principle of “respondeat superior” applies to nursing malpractice, meaning that the nurse’s employer or supervisor usually has to answer for it. This may be either the attending physician or the hospital, depending on the situation.
The attending doctor can be liable for nursing malpractice if he or she was present at the time that the nurse’s misdeed occurred and could have prevented the negligence. For example, the surgeon is responsible for monitoring all aspects of an operation and so can be held responsible if a nurse leaves a sponge in a patient. Even outside a surgical setting, if a doctor is present when the malpractice takes place, e.g., a nurse administers medication improperly, and the doctor has control over the situation, he or she may be liable for malpractice.
The hospital may be liable for nursing malpractice because nurses, unlike doctors, are usually employees of the hospital rather than independent contractors. The hospital may also be liable if the doctor gives a nurse improper orders and the nurse follows them in opposition to the standard of care for nursing.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing malpractice contact a medical malpractice lawyer from Hall-Justice Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation during which we can discuss the facts of your case.