As with doctors, nurses have a legal responsibility to maintain standards of quality in patient care. As such, states recognize when a nurse’s failure to live up to those responsibilities, and patient harm results.
We lay out several instances where Illinois recognizes nursing malpractice and allows for recovery of damages.
Failure to Monitor
It’s commonplace in a hospital setting that nurses monitor and even assess the patient before a doctor makes his or her own evaluation. If a nurse fails in his or her duty to monitor their patient, and the patient suffers harm as a result, the patient may indeed be able to file a medical malpractice claim. Some examples of this include a failure to address a change in vital signs, a failure to take appropriate corrective action when a patient is in distress, and the failure to notify a physician when necessary to protect the patient’s health resulting from a failing condition.
With the wide array of medical procedures nurses perform (i.e., inserting catheters, drawing blood and starting IVs), nurses are held accountable for errors made when carrying out their duties. Not all errors are considered medical malpractice. However, as with physician malpractice (where doctors must perform in ways that align with actions taken by a reasonable and competent physician in similar circumstances), nurses must also act in alignment with what would be expected of other reasonable competent nurses in the same situations. Typically, what is reasonable in a given set of circumstances can be attested to by a medical expert witness (often another competent nurse). But remember, even if the nurse’s actions do not comport with what is reasonably expected, their errors must also be responsible for a patient’s injuries if nursing malpractice is to become a foundation for personal injury damages.
It is also rather commonplace for nurses to administer medication to patients. If the wrong medication or dosage is given, serious medical injuries or even death can result. Furthermore, if a patient is given a medication that poses a danger in light of a known or documented allergy, serious consequences can occur. Some medication error injuries can be long-term and some can be life threatening. Additionally, if administration of a medication has caused injury, an experienced personal injury attorney will investigate the medication itself. Improper instructions provided by the manufacture or a defect in the medication itself may yield product liability damages against the manufacturer.
Nurses are often responsible for accurately documenting a patient’s condition as well as symptoms and treatment. This documentation is critical to appropriate and reasonable care. When a nurse improperly records details of a patient’s care and condition, and that causes harm to the patient, the patient may be able to recover medical malpractice damages.
The critical issues raised in these examples often lead to complex personal injury cases. It takes an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate the documenting of evidence, obtain expert testimony and identify the responsible party whether that is the hospital and/or the physician. If you have questions about a possible nursing malpractice case and would like to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney, call Bizzieri Law Offices at 773.881.9000. We have a wealth of experience recovering large awards for our clients. We can help you.