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Negligence and Malpractice in Nursing

Nov 23, 2021

What is nursing malpractice?

Medical malpractice committed by a nurse is the same as any other case of malpractice, where there is an omission of care or injury to the patient. To qualify as a medical malpractice case, there should be evidence of failure to adhere to a standard clinical practice that resulted in harm to you or your loved one. Another competent nurse could have averted this harm under similar circumstances.   

Nurses perform a vital role in patient care, monitoring, and recovery. Even a trivial mistake like miscommunication with a physician or missing out on information in medical reports can become a reason for your suffering.

Some examples of nursing negligence include:

  • Inadequate patient assessment
  • Inappropriate nursing intervention or care
  • Delivering an incorrect or wrong dose of medication
  • Inaccurate order interpretation
  • Inadequate infection control
  • Improper use of equipment

Nursing Malpractice Statistics

According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, nurses are independently responsible for malpractice claims (77%). About 7,000 (6%) of all malpractice payments after a judgment or settlement were made in the past 10 years (2010-2020).

An average of 200M dollars was paid for these malpractice payments each year. This included registered, practical, paraprofessional, and advanced nurse practitioners. For the patient outcomes from these claims, about one-third of them resulted in deaths, one-fourth as significant/major permanent injury, and one-eighth in minor/insignificant temporary injury.

Reported cases of negligence occurred in:

  • Inpatient and outpatient care in hospitals (60%). 
  • Nursing home and rehabilitation facilities (18%)
  • Advanced practice nurses (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists) (9%).
  • Psychiatric facilities (8%)
  • Nurses working under independent practice settings of physicians (2%)
  • Home health agencies (2%)

Among the allegations in nursing negligence, the three main categories that may lead to a malpractice lawsuit are problems relating to:

  • Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis (41%)
  • Delay in treatment (31%)
  • Medication errors or wrong orders (13%). 

Others arise from:

  • Surgery, obstetrics related, improper monitoring, and environmental safety (15%).

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