Nurses are human and the make mistakes — but because of the nature of their profession, a mistake at the wrong time could potentially seriously injure or even kill a patient.
There are actually five different types of common nursing errors of which patients (and their families) should be aware:
1. The failure to properly communicate a patient’s needs, especially during hand-offs. For example, a nurse may notice that a patient is consuming large quantities of fluid but not going to the bathroom very much. Forgetting to mention this fact could result in a delay in diagnosing a problem with the patient’s kidneys requiring dialysis.
2. The failure to follow the accepted standards of care for the patient. This means that you violated protocol or even common-sense judgment at some point. For example, if you have a patient who comes in on a walker and is showing early signs of dementia, it’s only reasonable to put the patient down as a “fall risk” and implement standard procedures designed to reduce those risks — including a bed monitor that will let the staff know if the patient suddenly decides to get up.
3. The failure to responsibly use the available equipment. This usually happens when a nurse is too intimidated to admit that he or she simply doesn’t know how to use the equipment ordered. For example, a nurse still in training may not know exactly where to put the electrodes for an EKG — but placing them in the wrong spot could produce a false negative.
4. The failure to properly assess and monitor a patient’s condition. This is a common problem in busy or understaffed hospitals. For example, a patient with a known history of drug allergies complains of itching, pain and swelling shortly after being given morphine. A nurse gives the patient Benadryl to counter any common allergic reaction but doesn’t continue checking the patient. The patient could develop trouble breathing and die from a closed airway.
5. The failure to carefully document the patient’s condition. There’s a commonly stated rule in medical error claims that “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” A nurse’s failure to document a medication dose could lead to a double dose, for example — which could be lethal for the patient.
If you or a loved one has suffered from any of these nursing errors, you have a right to seek compensation. An attorney can provide information on how you can proceed.
Source: www.proliability.com, “Top 5 Malpractice Claims Made Against Nursing Professionals,” accessed June 21, 2017