You would wonder why are weighing in on this subject of malpractice and Negligence in Nursing. The truth is, generally, health professionals (of course nurses inclusive) are saddled with the responsibility of the well-being and welfare of patients in their custody. As part of monitoring these patients welfare, writing medical reports is a given.
In fact, in the event of suspected malpractice that a nurse or health professional in charge at the time falsifies a medical report, the court reckons that misdemeanor as aiding and abetting the crime which leaves such a health professional at the huge risk of losing his/her license. On the flip side, cases have thrown out of court because of this same medical report proving ones innocence.
The above-mentioned scenarios goes to show how important a medical report is and also the amount of conscientiousness that must go in to preparing a medical report to avoid medical errors. It is in view of all of these, we would be wrapping our heads around the topic: malpractice and negligence in nursing.
What is Medical Malpractice in Nursing?
So, before we go any further, how about we explain what medical malpractice is? For every professional practice, and that includes, health and medicine, there are medical ethics which are standard rules that guide the medical profession.
Therefore, when a health professional, in this case a nurse, deviates from this standard rule of practice whilst discharging his/her duties which in turn leads to the harm or death of the patient, we have what a situation of medical malpractice on our hands.
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Majority of the cases bordering around nursing malpractice are usually settled out of court because you would need an expert witness to prove beyond every reasonable doubts that the unprofessional act of the nurse was what led to the harm or in extreme cases, the death of the patient.
Some practical day-to-day scenarios could be in birth surgeries, or any surgery that just went wrong. In all of these cases, there is ample proof that the nurses in this situation didn’t have an ulterior motive whilst discharging their duties rather it was an avoidable careless act. There are certain terminologies which are associated with malpractice in nursing that should be trashed out.
A Standard Care of Violation
Just as it was said earlier, their are ethics which guide health professionals in the administration of their duties. What we might have not stressed is the fact, that these ethics are universal. That means, every health professional, nurse, doctor or even dentist is bound by them.
A good example would be surgeon carrying out an operation on a patient’s body in places he shouldn’t because those areas many times could result in intense hemorrhaging. Or even, an anesthesiologist administering the wrong dosage of anesthetics which could cripple certain brain functions.
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Injury caused by Substantial Damage
In the event that a patient is injured because of the health professionals’ malpractice, we have an injury that is known as injury caused by substantial damage. In fact, it is only injuries caused by substantial damage that hold water in court cases where the nurse is accused of medical malpractice.
What kind of injuries can we call injuries caused by substantial damage? Injuries that result in the patient experiencing pain and discomfort, loss of functioning of a body part, permanent disability or even disfigurement. Truth is, if all of these injuries were avoidable, and most importantly, were as a result of the nurse’s carelessness, you have a strong case to make for medical malpractice.
Some other examples of medical malpractice are:
- Failue of the nurse as the case may be to either record or monitor a patient’s vital signs.
- Failure to respond to a patient as and when due.
- Failure to call on a doctor when the situation begins to get out of hand.
- Failure to feed a patient.
- Failure to use the correct abbreviations on a patient’s chart.
- Failure to do proper checks on the functioning of the medical equipment.
What is Medical Negligence in Nursing?
How do we know that it isn’t the case of medical malpractice but, medical negligence? First, it is important you know that when a health professional, take for an example, a nurse, is accused of medical negligence, it may not necessarily involve medical malpractice. However, medical negligence is said to be when the health professional unintentionally hurts a patient when discharging his/her duty.
A clear demonstration of medical negligence is when a nurse fails to properly monitor the vital signs of a patient and in this case, administers some drugs which end up affecting the patient’s heart, even if the nurse follows the standard of practice now, the error had already been committed and it is one due to the nurse’s negligence.
Some times, the wrong diagnosis is made as because the nurse or any health professional refused to run the proper tests which reflects in the wrong treatment plan given to the patient. This is a clear case or medical negligence in nursing.
Some other examples are:
- Failure to make diagnosis
- Failure to make timely diagonsis.
- Failure to ascertain whether a surgery is necessary.
- Failure to properly read laboratory test results.
- Failure to give proper follow-up care.
Differences Between Medical Malpractice and Negligence in Nursing
It would hurt to draw up again the differences between the medical malpractice and medical negligence. First, medical negligence doesn’t require that the health professional deviates from the standard procedure of practice.
Second, medical malpractice isn’t a strong case on its own except that the injury resulting can be traced to medical negligence. In this case, the harm is actually substantial or even life-threatening.
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In any of these cases, it is important that as a patient you keep a comprehensive report of the medical care you receive from your health professional. Also, you should hear in mind, that even though, there is sufficient proof for substantiate the medical malpractice, it is no guarantee you would win the case in court.
Regardless you have experienced this harm or injury by a medical professional as a result of either medical malpractice or medical negligence, it is still within your rights to consult the service of a lawyer who would go through your case, and represent your claims strongly.
At this juncture, the issue medical malpractice vs medical negligence must have been throughly dealt with.