Nurses represent the frontline of medicine. To borrow language from the armed services, they are healthcare’s “boots on the ground.” They work hard. They often stay by a patient’s side long after the doctor has completed her work and moved on. Small wonder that there’s an old saying in medicine: “Doctors diagnose. Nurses heal.”
But what happens if a nurse hurts instead of heals? What if they make a mistake and it harms you or a family member? Like doctors, physicians, surgeons, and therapists, nurses are health care providers who are expected to meet the minimum acceptable standard of care. When they fail to do so, that’s negligence. As a medical malpractice law firm, Hannon Legal Group has experience with cases where nursing negligence caused harm, injury, or even wrongful death. That’s nursing malpractice, a type of medical malpractice.What Nursing Malpractice Looks Like in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County Florida
Because nurses are involved with so many aspects of patient care, nursing negligence can take on many forms. Consider the following very real scenarios.
A nurse administers the wrong medication. That could cause adverse physical reactions or other harmful effects. Some patients die when given medicine to which they are allergic.
Suppose a nurse gives their patient the wrong amount or dosage of a medication. If too little medication was given, infection could spread or an illness could progress. If too much is given, brain damage or some other severe complication could occur, including wrongful death.
What if a nurse fails to respond appropriately when there is a change in vital signs or patient condition? What if that nurse neglects to alert a doctor when blood pressure or pulse or oxygen saturation rates significantly change and as a result, the patient’s condition becomes even worse?
Imagine a nurse working at nursing home—a situation we see often in South Florida—who fails to provide the most basic patient care and supervision. Her patients depend on her to keep them safe and healthy, yet negligence could lead to malnourishment, bedsores, or other issues that harm patient well-being.
Or consider the situation where a patient is being transported by a nurse who has failed to secure a patient from falling. Significant injuries could result.
There are many ways a nurse can act negligently. Besides the scenarios described above, nursing errors also include:
- A failure to contact a doctor in a timely fashion
- A failure to follow hospital protocols that were established to prevent patient harm
- A failure to monitor the patient's condition
- A failure to recognize the signs and symptoms of an infection
- A failure to recognize the signs and symptoms of an evolving heart attack
- A failure to respond to a critical warning alarm
- A general failure to prevent injuries
- A refusal or failure to follow the chain of command
- Failure to listen to and communicate the patient’s complaints to a physician
- Improper maintenance of a patient's chart
- Inadequate training for a job they are performing
- Miscommunication with doctors
- Mixing up patients
- Using a medical device incorrectly or inappropriately
A shortage in the number of qualified nurses is the crisis no one is talking about. It may very well be that this shortage is contributing to the number of Florida medical malpractice cases involving nursing negligence.
According to a study unearthed by Hannon Legal Group and reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, more than half of physicians claim that the shortage of nurses affects overall quality of patient care . Many of them are working longer shifts, thanks in part to a practice called “mandatory overtime.” This is a common practice, despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health has observed that longer shifts triple the risk of error!Who is Liable for Nursing Malpractice?
Nurses are responsible for the care they offer. When they provide care that falls below the acceptable standard of care, they are legally liable for their actions. But the hospital or clinic where they work may also be held responsible. In addition, if flawed interactions or poor communication with a physician contributed to the negligent care, the doctor or doctors may be held liable as well.How Can a Nursing Malpractice Victim Be Compensated?
If you are the victim of nursing malpractice, you may be awarded damages for the harm you experienced. These damages normally fall into the following categories:
- Loss of consortium - Generally, loss of consortium damages are only awarded in cases of permanent or life-changing injuries. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship, affection, comfort, and sexual relations that would normally be expected within a marriage.
- Loss of earning capacity - Injuries caused by nurses can alter your ability to work, either temporarily or permanently. When a person can no longer earn the same money as they could prior to the nursing malpractice injury, they can receive compensation for loss of earning capacity.
- Lost wages - When you have to miss work so you can recover from a nursing malpractice injury, you can collect compensation for lost salary and wages.
- Medical expenses - Naturally, if a medical malpractice victim incurs medical expenses—include the expense of assistive devices, therapy, prescriptions, doctor visits, hospital stays, or other medical expenses—that victim should expect to be compensated. This compensation may include future medical expenses, not just current expenses.
- Pain and suffering - Victims of nursing malpractice may experience emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, fear, or frustration. If this has happened to you, you can receive complication for the pain you’ve experienced.
- Other kinds of damages - Depending on the particulars of any nursing malpractice case, other damages may apply. Hannon Legal Group can help you understand what to expect if you have been the victim of nursing malpractice.
The experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Hannon Legal Group know the full scope of possibilities when it comes to nursing liability. Our legal team here in South Florida also understands what can be done to hold negligent medical professionals accountable, including negligent nurses.
When you enlist a team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers like Miami-based Hannon Legal Group, you gain an advocate who will examine every relevant aspect of your case, help you understand your rights, and fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. With offices in Miami and Orlando, we handle cases throughout the state. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call (305) 358-3109 and speak with a malpractice attorney or complete and submit a contact form.