With the rising number of baby boomers reaching retirement age every year, the number of people who require nursing care is constantly increasing–a concerning thought when recent statistics show that 10% of people over the age of sixty report being abused in nursing homes.
This abuse comes as a result of negligence and sometimes outright malpractice. Today, we’ll discuss what negligence is as well as some examples of malpractice in nursing. We’ll also examine what the next steps are if you feel you or a loved one is a victim of medical negligence or malpractice and need a Columbia, South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer.
What Is Negligence and How Is It Different From Malpractice?
When it comes to malpractice versus negligence in nursing, medical negligence refers to when a patient is harmed as a result of an accident or carelessness. Malpractice is more serious and involves situations where doctors and nurses should have known better and were not following established protocols or standards of care that are commonplace in the world of medicine.
It’s also important to differentiate who is at fault in negligence cases—the facility, the doctor, or the nurse. The doctor’s job is to prescribe treatment for the patient, and the nurse’s job is to carry out that treatment and care for the patient during their time in the hospital.
If a doctor accidentally prescribed three times the recommended dosage of an uncommon medication and a nurse follows that order and the patient dies as a result, the doctor is likely at fault. After all, the nurse was just following orders and cannot be expected to know the effects of every drug in existence. However, the nurse could be at fault if it had been a frequently prescribed drug and it was common knowledge that this medication was dangerous at such a high dosage.
Here are some additional examples of negligence in the world of nursing:
- During intake, the nurse forgets to ask the patient if they are allergic to any drugs or accidentally marks the patient’s chart that they have no allergies. Later, a drug is administered that brings about a serious reaction that causes harm to the patient.
- The nurse overseeing patient medication accidentally mixes up two pills and the wrong prescriptions are dispensed to two different patients. In cases such as this, the facility may also be considered negligent if they did not store and label their medication carefully.
- While bathing a patient, the nurse fails to notice this patient is listed as frail on their chart and therefore does not ask the patient to sit while being bathed. The patient falls and breaks their hip.
- An overworked nurse fails to provide the patient with an additional IV bag of fluids as prescribed, which leads to dehydration and a stroke. Once again, the facility may be deemed at fault if it can be shown that they have a pattern of improper care or staffing.
In each of these cases above, negligence could be elevated to malpractice for a few reasons. Many times, the difference between negligence and malpractice is an established pattern of poor care. What may look like an isolated incident, upon further inquiry, may turn out to be one in a series of constant mistakes on the part of the nurse throughout their career.
What if I Think I’m a Victim of Negligence or Malpractice?
If you have suffered as a result of a doctor or nurse’s mistake or lost a loved one in a medical procedure, you may potentially have a medical malpractice or negligence case on your hands. It’s important to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney right away so they can begin gathering evidence to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.