Want To Become a Nurse? What You Need To Know about Malpractice and Nursing Care

Whether you're still just thinking about becoming a nurse or you're getting ready to graduate from nursing school, you need to know about the basics of medical malpractice. You may think that malpractice is only a concern for doctors, but nurses are not exempt to charges, either. Here is a look at what you should know about malpractice basics and proper nursing care.

Nurses and the Standard of Care

When you go to work in a medical care facility, the company will have an established, clear policy that illustrates the standard of care that the company demands for their patients. You must be familiar with these standards at all times. This also means that you need to review them periodically in case of any updates or changes. Violations of the published standard of care may lead to a malpractice suit.

Proving Nursing Malpractice

In order for a patient to prove negligence on your part, he or she must be able to prove several factors. Here is a look at what the courts evaluate when deciding a malpractice case so you can evaluate your situation:

  1. Were You Responsible for the Patient? The only way that someone can claim malpractice is if they can prove that you had a medical responsibility for them. This means you must have been part of the nursing team that was tasked with caring for the individual. If you were not part of the active nursing staff caring for the patient, he or she may not be able to show any requirement of care.  
  2. Did You Violate the Responsibility of Care? If it is clear that you had a responsibility to care for the patient as part of his or her nursing staff, then the patient needs to prove to the courts that you violated that responsibility or failed to live up to the standard of care required by the facility. For example, if you forget to lift a bedrail after caring for a patient, or you fail to ensure that the rail is locked in place, this could be considered a violation of the standard of care. Actions like this put the patient at risk of falling, and if he or she is injured as a result, that could be enough for a malpractice suit.  
  3. Did Your Actions Cause Measurable Damages? The final piece of a malpractice suit requires the patient to show that your actions caused an injury or other damage. As an example, if the patient falls because you left a bed elevated, but there are no injuries sustained, there aren't any damages to claim. In that case, there are no grounds for malpractice.

If you have more questions about malpractice suits and want to know how to defend yourself, consider speaking with a lawyer from R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C.