Nursing Malpractice And Nursing Licenses
Everyone makes mistakes at work, but when do nursing errors cross that line and become malpractice? In general, nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse acts incompletely, and the actions harm a patient.
At one time, doctors were the primary targets of medical malpractice lawsuits, but in recent years, nurses are becoming more vulnerable to legal actions. Many nurses now even carry their own nursing malpractice insurance.
Nursing malpractice can include errors, mistakes, and negligence. Institutional policies, state nurse practice acts, and JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) standards are all considered when determining potential malpractice by nurses.
The following are examples of nursing malpractice:
•didn’t administer the correct drug
•didn’t administer the correct dosage of a drug
•didn’t administer the drug correctly
•didn’t assess the side effects or toxicity of a drug
•didn’t notify the doctor when the patient’s condition changed dramatically
•didn’t supervise the patient while he or she was getting out of bed, moving around, or going to the bathroom, resulting in a fall
•didn’t notify the doctor of a patient’s deteriorating condition
•didn’t provide the minimum standard of nursing care
What does it take to prove malpractice by a nurse? This may sound very basic, but first, there must be a nurse-patient relationship. Second, it must be shown that the nurse had a duty and failed to perform that duty. Third, the care that the nurse gave must fall outside the definition of “good and accepted practice.” And finally, there must be a correlation between what the nurse did (or didn’t) do and damage to the patient.
Please make note: Kevin Keaney, JD, BSN, MMH, is a lawyer with over 30 years experience, including professional license defense for nurses. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he practiced as a nurse for six years. Kevin is a member of the American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA). In addition to helping nurses in Oregon and Washington defend their licenses, nurses attorney Kevin Keaney helps nurses in Texas.