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Nurse Medical Malpractice: Case Studies and Risk Management

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Although they do not have as many responsibilities as doctors, nurses of all certifications and specializations can still commit medical malpractice. Many nursing malpractice case studies show that a hospital or other provider can minimize risks, but ultimately, individual decisions by nurses often still cause harm to the patient.

Case after case has shown that hospitals and medical malpractice insurers will fight hard to keep from losing, and will often propose settlements that are worth far less than what you deserve. Even if your malpractice case doesn’t have life-altering consequences, you still deserve full compensation for the new medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Getting a thorough understanding of your case requires extensive legal and medical knowledge, and teaming up with an attorney who doesn’t specialize in medical malpractice will only hurt your case in the end. No matter what your case looks like, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with Michigan’s medical malpractice laws.

Why Does Medical Malpractice Happen?

Hospitals are often given risk management recommendations to keep the staff from making errors. These include auditing documentation, training doctors and nurses on new best practices, and implementing adequate support and reporting processes for patients with complaints. Over the past few decades, hospitals have made great strides in improving the practices of their healthcare practitioners, including nurses.

However, since hospitals and clinics cannot supervise every doctor or nurse all the time, medical malpractice can happen even if the best risk management strategies are implemented. Individuals may make poor or incorrect decisions due to inexperience, fatigue, or other factors.

Nurses face many challenges during their jobs, and understaffing may be a contributing factor to some malpractice cases. Failure to adequately document patient needs and care can contribute to cases, as can a nurse’s general failure to listen to patient complaints.

Who Causes Medical Malpractice?

In some cases, the attending physician may ultimately be held responsible for errors. One of our largest medical malpractice cases ultimately found that the resident and attending physicians’ errors caused an infant’s cerebral palsy. The plaintiff, in this case, was able to show that a basic failure to monitor the patient while in labor contributed to oxygen deprivation and resulting harm to the fetus.

However, in many cases, errors by nurses can contribute much more, especially in longer-term care settings like nursing homes and even long stays in the ICU. Even though nurses cannot diagnose conditions, they can still make medication errors, failure to notify a doctor of changes in the patient’s condition, or otherwise neglect patients in their care.

Most states do not require doctors or nurses to strictly operate within their area of specialization. A vascular surgeon, for example, is technically allowed to do other types of surgeries, and a neonatal nurse may be allowed to work in many other areas. This can lead to mistakes resulting in medical malpractice, so hospitals often try to minimize risk by keeping staff in their areas of expertise.

How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work

Malpractice claims may be asserted if the patient or the family of a deceased victim believes that the medical practitioner violated the standard of care expected for the patient’s medical condition. For example, a patient who suffers an injury due to circumstances outside a nurse’s control cannot sue the nurse for malpractice.

Medical malpractice cases must establish who is responsible for the violation of standard of care that led to the patient’s injuries. Typically, the attending physician cannot be held responsible for mistakes made outside of his supervision.

Healthcare practitioners carry medical malpractice insurance that covers their responsibilities. An insured Nurse Practitioner (NP) who is allowed to write prescriptions can be sued for prescribing the wrong medication, for example. Nurse Practitioner medical malpractice cases can still add up to several hundred thousand dollars, even if their duties are not as extensive as those of physicians.

Verdicts and Case Studies

Case studies involving nurses show that the cause of the malpractice doesn’t matter nearly as much as the final impact on the patient. Even a minor clerical error can result in serious complications that rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs.

Our law firm has tackled medical malpractice cases with verdicts of a million dollars or more. These cases have ranged from pharmaceutical errors to birth trauma resulting in cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice claims asserted against any healthcare provider take time to work their way through the courts and require extensive evidence to prove. While some of that evidence will inevitably be in your own existing medical documentation, cases will still require extensive expert witnesses in order to win in your favor.

Winning Your Case

The best medical malpractice law firms use a range of physicians who are experts in their field to win cases, but it also takes experience and significant legal expertise in order to win. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we’re proud to have a winning team that has the best of both worlds.

Our team includes senior partner, Eileen Kroll, an attorney who’s also a former nurse. Her extensive knowledge and experience allow us to gain an in-depth understanding of your case quickly, so we can advise you and get your case moving as soon as possible.

The statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases in Michigan is just two years, so you need to act quickly. Contact us today at 866-MICH-LAW for a free consultation to talk to our team. Our law firm never charges a legal fee unless we win a settlement in your case.


Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Hannah Johnson has her Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs with a specialization in civic engagement. Her career has focused on labor-related research, including unions, workers' compensation, and contract law. She is now broadening her career to include research and policy analysis in East Asia, specifically in countries like South Korea and Japan where the aging population is creating a new frontier in economic trends and public policy innovation.



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