It is normal for a patient to have complete faith in his or her nurses. After all, the nursing staff at a hospital in Montana should have full training, years of experience and proper licensure. They should care deeply about providing top-notch patient care, and should never deviate from the accepted norms and best practices of the medical industry. It often comes as a shock, therefore, when a patient becomes the victim of harmful nursing negligence.
Nursing negligence is a type of medical malpractice in which a nurse or nurse practitioner engages in an activity that falls outside the standards of care, causing patient injuries or deaths. A nurse must obey his or her professional duties of care to a patient, such as communicating with others involved in the patient’s health care and administering medications. Any failure, omission or action that fails to fulfill the nurse’s duties of care, resulting in patient harm, is nursing negligence.
Communication can mean the difference between life and death for a patient in a nurse’s care. If a patient is exhibiting new symptoms, for example, it is a nurse’s duty to report them to the patient’s primary care doctor at the hospital. Failure to file reports or take other actions when a nurse’s duties require him or her to do so is nursing negligence. A nurse should communicate effectively with everyone involved in the patient’s care, including physicians, surgeons and family members.
Medication mistakes can easily be fatal for a patient. Thousands of patients rely on the proper medication types and dosages to combat illnesses, prevent infection, control symptoms and maintain their health. One study found a significant prevalence of medication errors in the U.S. It attributed 7,000 to 9,000 patient deaths per year to drug errors. It also estimated hundreds of thousands of others who experienced negative side effects and outcomes from drug mistakes without reporting them to their doctors. Medication mistakes cost the health care industry about $40 billion each year.
Nurses are often in charge of fulfilling patients’ treatment regimens while they stay in hospitals and health care centers. This duty may include administering medications to dozens of patients in a single day. Nurses must obey strict medication schedules that tell them which drugs to give each patient, at what time and in what dosage. A distracted or negligent nurse may make a mistake such as administering the wrong drug, mixing up patients, giving a drug at the wrong time or using the incorrect form of administration.
Nursing negligence can also take the form of improper use of tools or medical devices. These mistakes could seriously injure patients. Accidentally stabbing the patient with a sharp tool, dropping something heavy on the patient or otherwise causing injuries due to negligence could point to a nurse’s fault for the incident.
A nurse should have the proper training and experience to handle patient care properly, including completing common tasks such as placing IVs, dressing wounds and helping doctors with exams. Some types of tool-related negligence do not involve direct contact with the patient, but rather a nurse’s mistake involving medical devices or equipment. Knocking over an IV stand, for example, could be an act of negligence that causes the patient injury.
Patient neglect and abuse are two of the most blatant forms of nursing negligence in Montana. Neglect can take the form of a patient’s poor sanitation, bedsores, unkempt appearance or malnutrition. Patient abuse can involve physical injuries, mental/emotional damage or financial exploitation.
If a negligent or abusive nurse causes patient injuries, the hospital or health care center may be vicariously liable for damages. Most health care centers are responsible for the actions of their nurses and other staff members in medical malpractice claims in Montana.
Do you have a legal question you’d like to have answered? Contact the Great Falls personal injury attorneys of Kovacich Snipes Johnson, P.C. today. Our experienced lawyers will help you determine if you have a case for nursing negligence.