Nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse fails to perform his or her medical duties in accordance with the standard of care for that profession, and that failure harms the patient. There are a variety of ways that a nurse can harm a patient -- failing to act when something is wrong, administering the wrong drug or the wrong dosage, failing to notify a doctor when something is really wrong, or injuring a patient with medical equipment. Nursing malpractice can occur during surgery, in a hospital, or in a doctor's office or clinic.
Nursing standards of care are established in several ways including hospital and nursing policies and procedures, training, hospital regulations, Tennessee nursing regulations, standing orders at the hospital or nursing facility or nursing home, etc.
There are many reasons for an increase in Tennessee medical malpractice suits against nurses. Nurses are receiving increased responsibilities and tasks in taking care of patients in light of down-sizing staffs in hospitals, budget cuts, poor communication and nurses are required to have greater knowledge of advances in medical procedures and technology.
Tennessee nursing malpractice cases are based on a wide range of allegations. Some of the more common allegations include:
- Failure to follow a physician’s orders
- Failing to assess the patient’s status and vitals
- Failing to adequately document the patient’s condition and changes in condition
- Failure to timely notify a doctor
- Failure to re-position a patient (resulting in bedsores)
- Failure to safely secure the patient
- Failure to properly assist the patient with transfers (to the bathroom, to bed, etc)
- Injuring the patient with equipment or flawed techniques
- Failure to question a doctor’s orders if they are unclear or wrong
- Failure to go up the “chain of command” if the nurse disagrees with a doctor’s decisions
There are many types of nurses. Some have different levels of training, such as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs). There are also many different specialized types of nurses including:
- Ambulatory Care Nurses - care for patients that remain in the hospital for less than 24 hours
- Anesthesia Nurses - work with surgeons and anesthesiologists and obstetricians before, during and after surgery or labor and delivery
- Cardiac Care Nurses - work with the medical staff to assess, intervene and implement care for the heart patient
- Emergency Room Nurses - triage patients and classify their needs so that urgent or emergent care can be provided
- Geriatric Nurses - provide care for elderly patients
- Neonatal Nurses - provide care for newborns that are both healthy and unhealthy. They are responsible for providing preventative care to prevent illness and must anticipate, prevent, diagnose and minimize illness in newborns.
- Oncology Nurses - work with cancer patients during their treatment, recovery, remission and recurrence
- Pediatric Nurses - work with children
These are just a few of the types of nurses. With each, there is a great deal of clinical judgment involved in a nurse’s responsibilities. Where there is a bad outcome and a patient alleges that the nurse’s failures caused their injury, the patient must prove that failures directly led to their injury or harm.
When a patient’s health is compromised while undergoing medical treatment, it may be unclear as to who, if anyone, is at fault. The hospital, the physician or the nurse may be liable or may share liability depending on the circumstance. The complexity of medical malpractice law can be overwhelming for its victims.
Don’t let a hospital, doctor or nurse tell you these things happen in the course of medical care and cannot be prevented. Some of these actions most certainly can be avoided, and The Chiozza Law Firm will let you know if their actions were within the normal standard of care. Due to the complexity of medical malpractice claims and the knowledge needed to tackle these issues it is important to call an attorney at The Chiozza Law Firm for a free confidential case evaluation. While many individuals will try to do their own research on the internet following such a possibly horrific breach of your standard of care, a phone call to the Chiozza Law Firm is all that is needed to determine your legal rights and options. In Tennessee the Statute of Limitations for a Plaintiff is extremely short and you could lose your right to a claim if your concerns are not immediately addressed. Again, feel free to contact us at 901-526-9494 or scroll to the contact section to receive immediate assistance.