Nurse Negligence

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Nurse Negligence Cases

Brien Roche

Nurse negligence is founded on the idea that nurses have a duty not only to comply with the standard of reasonable care in terms of the overall care of a patient but also have an obligation to act as an advocate for the patient. Their failure to do so may bring their action within the scope of medical malpractice and may expose them to a medical malpractice action. Under the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses, the nurse as an advocate for the patient must be alert to and take appropriate action regarding any instance of incompetent,  unethical, illegal or impaired practice by any member of the health care team.  Nurses in general are required to report changes in a patient’s condition and/or to question the orders of a doctor when they are not in accordance with standard medical practice.

Nurse Negligence Standards of Care

The overall nursing standard of care may be established by a number of different means:

  • Most states have administrative codes that are called Nurse Practice Acts. 
  • Nursing organization standards such as standards published by the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists. 
  • Nursing literature.  Some standard nursing textbooks are Foundations of Nursing Practice and Illustrated Manual of Nursing Practice.      
  • Risk management publications.  These publications, put out principally by the insurance industry and by hospitals may establish the standard of care.
  • Hospital policies and procedures.  These need to be obtained in the early course of discovery if litigation is initiated. 

Nurse Negligence and Failure to Communicate

Failure to communicate between health care providers is a frequent cause of serious medical injury and resulting medical malpractice. Many hospitals use the “National Patient Safety Goals” published by the Joint Commission as a basic standard for their policies and procedures. These goals, referred to as NPSG guidelines, clarify how certain things should be properly communicated and recorded among health care providers.For instance, such things as telephone orders, abbreviations to be avoided, proper hand off of a patient from one provider to another and proper communication of critical test results.

One model for proper communication is what is called SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation). This method requires that the provider who is communicating information to another provider identifies the current situation, what the background is leading to that current situation, what is the assessment of the situation and what is the recommendation to remedy the situation. Documentation of this communication should be maintained in the patient’s hospital chart.

In evaluating the communication between providers, in particular doctors and nurses, it is important to look at the issue of disruptive conduct, i.e. whether the doctor has a reputation of engaging in intimidating or abusive behavior towards other providers. That impedes communication. In that regard the disciplinary history of that doctor becomes important. Many hospitals have a policy of zero tolerance of any such disruptive behavior.

With the advent of electronic medical records it is important to know the technology aspects of recording information at that facility and by that provider.

It is also important to understand and review the chain of command within the health care system. Nurses are required to report concerns about a patient to the attending doctor first. If that doctor fails to take corrective action, then the nurse is required to notify the supervisor. The failure of the nurse to do so may make the nurse legally liable.

All of those different modes of communication need to be evaluated in looking at a communication failure case.

For Nurse Negligence Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you have been injured as a result of what you believe to be the negligence of a nurse contact us.
For more information about nursing see the pages on Wikipedia

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Nurse Negligence

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation