Is Nurse Negligence Considered Medical Malpractice?

Nurses, like any other medical professional can sometimes make an error that results in a complication in diagnosis or treatment. Situations in which nursing malpractice or negligence can occur include misread or ignored doctor’s orders, providing a patient with the wrong medication type or dosage, or even abuse to a patient by a nurse on staff.

For patients in a medical clinic, hospital, or hospice center, the highest level of care possible is the expectation. These expectations are not always met, and medical mistakes may sometimes happen whether through accidental or purposeful fault.

Negligence Criteria

Negligence occurs when the expected standard of care is not met by a caregiver. If a practice is something that a nurse would do under the best of situations, and is agreed upon by other nursing professionals, it is not considered negligent. Proving negligence in the nursing profession is more complicated than proving negligence by a doctor, but this does not mean that nursing malpractice does not occur. The hardest part of a nursing malpractice claim is proving the nurse as the liable party for the injury.

There are three criteria that must be met in order to file a negligence claim against a nursing professional:

Patients must prove that an injury was caused or worsened by the care provided to them. This inadequate care may be a result of lack of attention by the nursing staff, or insufficient skills and training by the nurse. There must be a complication of some sort, whether it is a new injury or causing an existing condition to worsen. Examples that are common mistakes by nursing professionals include: providing the wrong type of medication or the wrong dosage, failing to follow established protocol, disregarding doctor instructions, and using medical equipment improperly.

Nursing Medical Malpractice Claims

A claim against a nurse is also a claim against the hospital, owing to nursing professionals working in a hospital environment. A nurse cannot be held personally liable for negligence if he or she is overseen during the treatment protocol or instructed to administer a specific treatment path by a doctor. In this case, the claim could potentially exist, but against the doctor instead of the nurse.


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