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Can Nurses Be Sued for Medical Malpractice?

Written by Berkowitz

nurse medical malpracticeNursing malpractice does occur, but not as often as physician malpractice. When a nurse fails to perform his or her duties, or competently performs but harms the patient, then the nurse could be held liable for malpractice. There are a few ways in which a nurse can be found negligent, such as failing to administer medication, not monitoring vitals, or failing to notify the overseeing physician when something is wrong with the patient.





In cases of nursing malpractice, the issue is more about identifying who was responsible for monitoring the nurse’s actions, instead of the nurse’s misdeeds alone.

When is it Considered Nursing Malpractice?

Just like with physicians, nursing malpractice happens when nurses fail to perform the standard level of care that is expected of them. Their actions are compared to the actions of another nurse, to determine what a competent nurse would have done in a similar situation. Not all mistakes made by nursing staff are considered malpractice, either; instead, it is only malpractice when the nurse deviates from the standard of care, or is grossly negligent and causes injuries as a result.

Just some situations that may be considered nursing malpractice include:

  • Not Taking Action When Action is Required – Nurses often oversee a large aspect of patient care. If there is an emergency with the patient, the nurse must take immediate action. Failing to take action, or delaying taking the right action, could be considered malpractice. For example, if a patient’s vital signs start to rapidly decline, and the nurse decides to take her break and check back later instead of contacting the physician or calling for help, he or she is liable for malpractice.
  • Injuries from Improper Equipment Use – A nurse is also liable for malpractice if he or she injures a patient with equipment. For example, dropping a heavy piece of equipment on the patient and causing injury could be considered malpractice. Also, if a nurse uses medical equipment for uses other than its intended use, or uses it improperly and causes injury, then he or she could be liable for malpractice.
  • Improper Administration of Medications – A nurse’s main job is to administer medications. He or she is required to follow the doctor’s prescribing orders in terms of dosage, how often to meditate, and with what type of medication. If he or she fails to administer the proper dose – or even the correct medication – then the nurse could be liable for the injuries that occur. Also, if the nurse injects the medication into the incorrect region, such as the thigh instead of the vein, he or she could be liable too.

Who Do You Hold Responsible for the Nurse’s Actions?

While the nurse may have committed the error, that nurse is not always the person who is held liable for the injury. Most nursing malpractice cases center around who is responsible for the nurse’s actions – such as the hospital, charge nurse, or physician. Just some entities that can be held responsible for the misdeeds of the nurse include:

  1. The Hospital – This is often the main party listed in a malpractice suit against a nurse. That is because the nursing staff is typically employed by the hospital – unlike physicians who can be independent contractors. If the nurse was working for the hospital at the time of the injury, then the employer (hospital), could be named in the malpractice lawsuit.
  2. Attending Physician – An attending physician may be overseeing the nurse’s duties. If the doctor was present at the time of the injury and had control over the nurse’s actions, he or she could be liable too. But, the plaintiff must prove that the attending physician had some sort of control over the nurse’s actions and that he or she could have prevented the injury.

Getting Assistance for Your Malpractice Claim – Speak with an Attorney

If you have been injured by nursing errors, you may have a claim against the nurse, hospital, or the attending physician. You will need to first have your case analyzed by a medical malpractice attorney. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.