Nursing Errors Attorney

Tulsa Nursing Errors Attorney

Medical malpractice or medical negligence lawsuits typically target doctors, but a subset of these claims involves nursing errors. Nurses are often responsible for more hands-on care of patients, and they spend a larger percentage of their time attending to people than doctors do. More time engaging with more patients sometimes translates to an increased risk of nursing mistakes.

What is Nursing Negligence?

Most discussions of medical malpractice focus on mistakes or misdiagnoses made by physicians. Nursing negligence occurs when a nurse behaves in a way that a reasonable nurse in that situation would not have behaved, and a patient is harmed as a result. This negligence can occur in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a nursing home.

Because nurses spend much more of their work shifts in direct contact with patients, they serve as the “eyes and ears” of doctors. It is critical that they record and interpret information correctly, double-check patient information, and review medication orders before administering them. Along with the many other tasks nurses must complete, urgent situations can arise that require them to problem-solve with little preparation.

Just as with medical malpractice cases involving doctors, nurses can be held liable for purposeful actions that cause harm. They may also face lawsuits for not taking action quickly enough, not taking the right action, or failing to act in a timely manner.

How and Why Do Nursing Errors Happen?

Every medical case is unique, and nurses often manage many cases simultaneously. This creates multiple situations in which nursing errors can occur. Medical equipment may be used improperly or may be faulty and lead to incorrect readings for a patient’s vital statistics such as blood pressure or heart rate. If a patient has mobility or stability issues, failing to protect them with proper fall precautions can result in broken bones or other injuries. Poorly communicated discharge instructions can cause nursing errors even after a patient leaves for home.

Despite the myriad ways errors can happen, there are some common ones that frequently appear in nursing malpractice cases. These include:

Medication errors

Nurses bear tremendous responsibility for ensuring medications are distributed correctly and on time to multiple patients in a short timeframe. They must verify patient identity and information, assimilate any new changes to the patient’s condition, and interpret updated physician notes every time they administer medicines.

Mistakes that can occur during the process of distributing drugs are:

  • Prescription errors: Doctors may prescribe the wrong drug or misspell the name. They may also give a higher or lower dose than is needed or prescribe a medication that conflicts with another drug for the patient.
  • Dispensing errors: Pharmacists can dispense an incorrect dosage of a drug or fail to include important warning labels.
  • Administration errors: Nurses may give the medicine to the patient too quickly or too slowly. They may give too little or too much, use improper equipment, or administer it in the wrong place
Poor communication

In many nursing environments, understaffing combined with patient overload are recurring problems. A doctor is expected to manage hundreds of cases each day in hospitals and nursing homes and often has only a few minutes to speak with the nursing staff. A nurse may try to save time by interpreting a doctor’s written prescription without contacting them to verify the details. This decision could easily lead to illness or injury for a patient. Another communication problem can arise when nurses do not clearly share notes and updates from one shift to the next. Medical professionals are often fatigued after long, demanding hours and may only give brief patient summaries to incoming staff.

Poor infection management

The likelihood of contracting a contagious disease in hospitals or other care facilities is very high. Viruses and bacteria are present in unusually large numbers in any medical setting, and strict cleaning protocols are required to prevent their spread. This can be especially dangerous for patients who are already ill, are immuno-compromised, or are recovering from injuries. Nursing staff travel all over the hospital as part of their job and can easily carry pathogens to every patient they visit. They must adhere precisely to cleanliness rules regarding hygiene and equipment sanitation to limit the spread of dangerous organisms.

Overwork and exhaustion

Recent increases in infectious diseases and traumatic injuries means that the same nursing staff must continue to provide care for an increasing number of patients. Because most hospitals and medical facilities are run as for-profit businesses, the quality of patient care is often reduced in order to maintain the desired bottom line. While these reasons do not excuse mistakes, it is important to acknowledge that administrators often make decisions that put their staff at risk of committing serious nursing errors.

Elder Care Facilities Have High Rates of Nursing Errors

More people are entering long-term nursing or memory care homes in the US every year. These facilities are often understaffed or employ individuals who lack sufficient training. Because patients in these homes usually require round-the-clock care, nursing negligence can be widespread. Even when a patient remains at home, health aides who visit can be prone to making serious mistakes.

Some common instances of nursing negligence in these situations are:

  • Failing to prevent bedsores: Bed-bound or wheelchair-bound patients must be moved regularly to avoid developing bedsores.
  • Failing to prevent falls: Elderly or sick patients can suffer serious injury or death when nurses do not take precautions to prevent falls. Safety equipment is critical for preventing these errors.
  • Failing to diagnose or treat fall injuries in a timely manner: If a nurse or home health aide is not trained on handling fall injuries, serious conditions can be overlooked. Life-threatening complications can develop quickly from broken bones or internal damage.
  • Failing to prevent infections: Nurses and home aides visit many patients on a given day and can easily transfer diseases between clients if they do not follow hygiene protocols.
  • Mismanaging infections: When a nurse fails to recognize signs of a serious infection or septic shock, a patient’s health can decline very fast, risking a coma or death.
Do I Need An Attorney If I Suffered A Nursing Error?

Medical malpractice can be difficult to prove and requires familiarity with state laws governing liability, as well as knowledge of how to obtain evidence for a case. An experienced nursing errors attorney can provide guidance on available options and develop a plan for seeking justice.

Nursing errors can cause catastrophic injury or death, altering the lives of victims and their families. Patients can suffer disability or need aggressive treatment for conditions that result from someone else’s mistake. In these cases, patients may choose to seek compensation from individuals as well as institutions to cover the damages they face.

Proving Liability in a Nursing Negligence Case

Nursing negligence is a form of medical malpractice and subject to the same strict burdens of proof. In cases of nursing negligence, hospitals are frequently named as defendants alongside nurses. If a doctor was present when a nurse made a mistake and the doctor did not correct it, they are also considered liable.

Proving liability for medical malpractice or nursing negligence cases is more challenging than for other claims. The medical industry lobbies state legislators to pass bills favoring practitioners over patients. Additionally, most people do not have access to the financial and legal resources that medical institutions possess.

Above all, the plaintiff and their attorney must prove the following:

  • The nurse has a medical relationship with the patient.
  • The nurse’s actions were negligent, failing to meet the standard of care defined by common practices in the medical profession.
  • The nurse’s negligence directly caused further illness, injury, or death.
  • The illness, injury, or death led to calculable damages.

It is important to draw a clear line between the nursing error and the patient’s damages. Part of this involves providing evidence of the accepted standard of care and how the caregiver strayed from it. This can be supported by maintaining a contemporaneous record illustrating the timeline of events and by presenting receipts for all related expenses.

What Damages Are Available After A Nursing Error?

A single mistake by a nurse can quickly cascade into a disastrous illness or death, leaving a family with emotional and financial burdens to bear. Pursuing compensation to provide for the victim’s care and loss can ease the stress of recovering. A qualified nursing errors attorney can help a victim recover recompense for damages such as:

  • Hospital bills
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Therapy expenses
  • Lost income or potential earnings
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Disability
  • Paralysis
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of limb or organ
  • Loss of inheritance potential for the family

Section 23-61.2 of the Oklahoma Statutes states that there is no upper limit for damages of an economic nature, such as medical bills or property loss. Awards for non-economic damages, such as mental anguish or pain and suffering, are limited to no more than $350,000. Victims must file within a 2-year window to be eligible for compensation.

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