Malpractice cases are a very common theme in the medical world. Individuals are injured and seek compensation due to negligence, misconduct, or failure to apply to medical standards. Legal Nurse Consultants play a key role in aiding the victim or helping in the defense of the healthcare provider. Long ago, the idea of nurses being sued in a malpractice was non-existent, but in recent years the chance of a nurse has increased in facing charges. Around 2 percent of all malpractice cases involve nurses. This is still very low, but if a nurse is not careful, he or she can become liable for patient injury. A nurse can lose his or her license, position, as well as personal assets in these cases, so nurses, even basic RN’s need to protect themselves with good habits in patient care. Following nursing standards and following protocol are key factors in protecting oneself as a nurse, but it goes beyond that.
Most cases against nurses involve misconduct, but can also include a variety of issues during the actual care. Besides from deviating from norms of care, nurses need to properly communicate with the physician, fellow nurses, and patient in the overall care.
Nurses also need to monitor and assess the patient. This involves watching the patient carefully and not neglecting the patient’s needs or missing important and clear changes in health. While this seems to be the most common-sense role a nurse plays, nurses can become overwhelmed with numerous patients and one can forget a minor duty.
Most attorneys look at the nurse’s role in the injury to their patient and will look at communication issues, medication errors, assessment errors, and the mental state of the nurse. Nurses need to be very vigilant in the care of their patients, not just for the patient’s health, but also for their own legal and professional security.
Most professionals agree, nurses can protect themselves through excellent charting and documentation. If it is not documented, in the eyes of the court it never occurred. Nurses hence need to document patient care and communicate it efficiently to other care professionals.
Nurses need to also work within the chain of command. If something does not seem right, they need to notify the physician and if something continues not to seem right, they cannot just remain silent, but contact the head nurse to correct the issue.
Through communication with the patient and family, most nurses can avoid these pitfalls. Most attorneys are looking to sue the system itself, but nurses play an important role in protecting the hospital through good first-hand care.
Nurses are, still nonetheless, no longer absent faces in malpractice suites and can face great legal and professional losses if they do not follow standards of care and present themselves properly in that care. It is a serious job to care for people and responsibility and professional care are prerequisites for any nurse.
If you would like to learn more about nursing law and malpractice, then please review our Legal Nurse Consulting Certification. If the program matches your academic and professional needs, you could become a certified Legal Nurse Consultant.