If substandard care from a nurse left you with health complications or other issues, you may need the help of a Philadelphia nurse malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice frequently has devastating effects on the lives of ordinary people. Though they do not bear the same level of responsibility for treatment outcomes as doctors do, nurses are qualified medical professionals that must be held to high standards when it comes to the well-being and safety of patients like you.
If you’ve been the victim of improper care, you should consult with a nurse malpractice attorney to discuss your options with respect to legal action.
What Is Nursing Malpractice?
Nursing malpractice is a type of medical malpractice involving negligent or inappropriate care by a nurse. It occurs when a nurse fails to competently perform their duties in a way that a reasonable and prudent nurse would under the same circumstances, resulting in harm or injury to a patient.
Four elements must be proven in order for a court to hold that nursing malpractice has taken place. These are:
- Duty of care: This generally does not pose problems, as the nurse-patient relationship automatically implies a duty of care.
- Breach of duty: The nurse must breach their duty by failing to meet the standard of care, whether by action or omission.
- Injury: You must suffer actual harm to be eligible to file a nursing malpractice lawsuit. If a nurse provides substandard care but you do not suffer any ill effects as a result, you won’t be eligible for compensation.
- Causation: The harm you suffer must come as a direct result of the nurse’s breach of duty.
This straightforward summary of nursing negligence fails to properly illustrate how complex these cases are in practice. If you want a better idea of whether you should file a lawsuit, you should consider scheduling a consultation with one of our nursing malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia.
What Types of Care Are Nurses Qualified to Provide?
It’s important to note that there are different levels of qualification in nursing, and that these may have a bearing on whether the circumstances of a given case amount to negligence.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
Sometimes known as nursing aides, the role of CNAs is often to support the work of more senior nurses. Their tasks typically include assisting patients with their daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and moving around. CNAs generally do not require a college degree, though they may need to have completed a state-sanctioned training course. The state of Pennsylvania does not permit CNAs to administer medication to patients.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
LPNs are allowed to provide more advanced types of care than CNAs. Their responsibilities may include taking and recording blood pressure, checking temperature, and wound care. Depending on patient requirements and hospital policy, they may also help patients with their activities of daily living, as CNAs do. LPNs are permitted to administer medication under certain circumstances in Pennsylvania.
Registered Nurses (RNs)
RNs have more advanced responsibilities, in terms of medical care, than other types of nurses. They have greater authority to administer treatment and collaborate with doctors when it comes to care plans, and some may specialize in certain areas of medicine. RNs must complete either an associate or bachelor’s degree in order to be allowed to practice. In some facilities, they may be responsible for overseeing the work of CNAs and LPNs.
Common Examples of Nursing Malpractice
There are a number of ways in which negligent nursing care can result in worsened outcomes for patients.
Though doctors are responsible for the prescription of medications, nurses frequently administer them. Nurses are also responsible for monitoring patients after they receive medication to ensure they’re responding appropriately to the treatment and not suffering adverse effects.
If an RN or an LPN administers you the wrong medication or the wrong dose of a medication, or fails to notice if you’re responding improperly to treatment, this may amount to negligence on their part. Additionally, if a health care facility allows a CNA to take charge of the administration of medical treatment, this may amount to malpractice on the part of the organization.
Patient neglect may include failing to respond to patient requests in a timely manner, failing to provide food or water, or failing to keep a patient clean. RNs, LPNs, and CNAs may all be liable for negligence if they fail to properly discharge these duties.
Improper Use of Medical Equipment
Nurses, particularly RNs, are often responsible for using complex medical equipment to provide patient care. If a nurse carries out a task like this improperly due to carelessness or a lack of training, patient injury may occur. Nurses working in areas like dialysis units or surgical theaters typically have more interaction with specialized medical equipment.
Are Nurses Personally Liable for Negligent Care?
Our clients sometimes express reluctance to file medical negligence suits because of concerns that a nurse treating them will be left to pay massive damages. However, even in successful cases, that’s not always what happens. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the responsibility for negligent patient care by a nurse may fall on the health care facility employing them.
When a Nurse Is Liable for Negligent Care
A nurse may be held personally liable for negligent care if they fail to meet the standard of care that another reasonable nurse in the same position would meet, and this failure directly results in harm to a patient. The expected standard of care depends on a nurse’s specific role, as well as their level of training and experience.
When the Hospital Is Liable
A hospital may be held liable for substandard care by a nurse under a legal principle known as “vicarious liability.” This doctrine holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees, provided those actions fall under the scope of their employment duties.
This situation may arise if a health care facility fails to adequately train its staff or ensure they are properly trained, does not properly supervise its staff, or does not maintain adequate staffing levels. Hospitals or care homes may also be liable if they retain nurses they know, or should know, are unfit for their duties. This can include nurses with a history of negligence or malpractice, or nurses working beyond their qualifications or outside their area of expertise.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What kind of compensation can I expect from a nursing malpractice claim?
Depending on the nature of the harm you’ve suffered and the negligence of the nurse or health care facility, you may be entitled to economic damages, non-economic damages (sometimes known as pain and suffering damages), and punitive damages. You should note, however, that punitive damages are awarded only in the most egregious cases.
Do I need an attorney to file a nursing malpractice claim?
Technically speaking, you do not need a lawyer to file a nurse negligence lawsuit; you may represent yourself. However, your chances of securing a settlement that will cover all your costs will be much smaller if you go this route. Medical malpractice is a highly technical area of the law, and the health care facility or insurance company you’ll be going up against will likely have a high-powered legal team at its disposal.
What if I can’t afford to pay for a nursing malpractice lawyer?
The lawyers at The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia work on a contingency fee basis on cases like these. That means we only take fees as a part of client settlements, and you don’t have to pay us a cent unless and until you receive compensation.
How a Philadelphia Nurse Malpractice Attorney Can Help You
Medical malpractice issues are frequently highly complex, from both legal and personal standpoints.
When you receive care for a medical issue, you expect your problems to be addressed, not made worse. Many of our clients come to us completely overwhelmed by their complicated medical situations and the implications of their health care providers’ unwillingness to admit fault for what happened.
As nurse malpractice lawyers, we know what’s required in these cases. If you come to us, we can guarantee you professional, empathetic, and dedicated legal representation.
Get in contact today via our online contact form or over the phone at 800-969-4400. We offer free, no-obligation initial consultations, and we work on a contingency-fee basis. So, we won’t take a cent from you unless we secure a settlement on your behalf.