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Medical malpractice has serious repercussions for its victims. When you enter a health care facility for treatment, the last thing you expect is for the professionals there to make your condition worse, or to leave you with entirely new issues. Sadly, this happens more often than you might think.
While nurses don’t bear the same level of responsibility as physicians, they’re still in a position that requires expertise and skill. When they fail to apply this expertise and skill, the results can be disastrous for you, the patient.
Medical malpractice is the branch of law that deals with injuries brought about by substandard health care. Nursing malpractice is the part of this doctrine that deals with negligent care by nurses specifically. Negligence in nursing can take many forms, which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this post.
At Crain Brogdon, every lawyer for nursing malpractice prides themselves on fighting health care giants and insurance companies tooth-and-nail to get the best possible settlements for our clients. However, while that’s always our focus, there’s much more to our job than that.
The lawyer-client relationship begins when you visit us for a free initial consultation. During this no-obligation meeting, you’ll have the chance to tell us your story and learn whether you might have a viable lawsuit on your hands. If we think it’s worth your while to pursue legal action, we’ll get to work on your case right away.
The attorneys at Crain Brogdon will be in touch with you throughout this process, ensuring that you feel secure in the execution of all important decisions and that all your questions are answered. If you visit our testimonials page, you’ll see how impressed our previous clients have been with the level of service we offer.
Once an attorney for nursing malpractice files a lawsuit on your behalf, the discovery process can begin. This means the defendant’s legal team will be required to hand over evidence we request, allowing us to build as strong an argument as possible in your favor.
There will be opportunities for us to negotiate an out-of-court settlement during this period. However, if these efforts prove unsuccessful, we won’t hesitate to fight your case before a judge and jury.
If you’d like an idea of the kind of payday you might be entitled to in the event of a successful lawsuit, have a look at our case results page.
The level of responsibility a nurse has in relation to patient care depends on what type of nurse they are. There are various levels of qualification in nursing in Texas, some having more substantial duties than others.
Certified nursing assistants are not qualified nurses, but work in health care facilities alongside registered nurses and doctors. They typically work under the direct supervision of an RN or LVN and have a limited scope of practice, focusing on basic patient care. CNAs are commonly responsible for tasks like bathing and feeding patients, checking vital signs, and assisting with mobility.
CNAs in Texas must complete a state-approved training program and pass a competency exam before being admitted to practice.
LVNs are responsible for more complex care duties than CNAs; they may administer medications and carry out wound care, among other such tasks. They may also have administrative duties.
According to the Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, 58% of working nurses in the Lone Star State are registered nurses (RNs).
RNs have a broad range of responsibilities, including assessing patient needs, creating care plans, administering medications, and coordinating care with other health care professionals. To be admitted to practice, they must complete an approved nursing program, either an associate or bachelor’s degree, and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. They are licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing.
APRNs include nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), nurse midwives (CNMs), and nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). They may diagnose certain conditions and even prescribe medications in some instances. APRNs must have a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, national certification, and an RN license. They must also be recognized as an APRN by the Texas Board of Nursing.
APRNs have the broadest scope of practice of any type of nurse. The precise nature of this scope varies based on the specialty of the nurse in question.
There are various types of nursing malpractice that can result in worsened patient outcomes or entirely new injuries. Some of the issues of this type we see most often include:
Administering the wrong medication, dosage, or failing to administer medication at the proper time can lead to serious health complications, overdoses, and even death. LVNs, RNs, and APRNs may all administer medication; however, if a nurse is put in charge of a medication-related task that is outside her competence, this may amount to negligence on the part of the employing health care facility.
Nurses are often responsible for monitoring patients’ vital signs and overall condition. Failure to do this properly often leads to worsened patient outcomes.
Incorrectly using or failing to properly maintain medical equipment, such as IV pumps or ventilators, can cause physical harm or exacerbate a medical condition.
A lack of clear communication with other health care providers, including failure to report changes in a patient’s condition, can lead to mistakes in treatment and care, causing harm to the patient. Failure to accurately document patient care, medications, or treatment plans may lead to misunderstandings or mistakes in treatment that can negatively impact patient outcomes.
Negligence in maintaining proper hygiene and infection control protocols can lead to infections, which can be life-threatening, especially to those with weakened immune systems. Federal government research has previously found that healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) cause tens of thousands of deaths in U.S. hospitals annually. Though it’s difficult to prove, a nurse may be liable for resulting harm if they allow infections to develop by failing to adhere to proper hygiene standards.
Nurses are required to follow orders from physicians or more senior nurses. If a nurse ignores these orders, or negligently misinterprets them, this may give rise to liability for any patient injuries that result.
Patients often bear as great a responsibility as health care professionals when it comes to their rehabilitation following serious injury or illness. Depending on the condition, failing to adhere to a sensible recovery protocol (including post-discharge care, medications, or follow-up appointments) can severely impede your progress. Of course, it’s only possible for you to do the right things if you receive the right instructions from your care team. If a nurse negligently gives you inaccurate or inadequate directions, and your condition gets worse, this may amount to malpractice.
Any physical mistreatment, inappropriate handling, or abuse of a patient can lead to immediate physical injuries, emotional trauma, or long-term health issues. Though it might be difficult to imagine a healthcare professional deliberately harming a vulnerable patient, it does happen. It’s a particularly prevalent issue in nursing homes; statistics show that around 10% of elderly care home residents report having suffered neglect or abuse of some kind.
Do nurses face personal liability for their own negligence, or does the responsibility fall on their employer?
When it comes to nursing malpractice, both the individual nurse and the employing hospital or healthcare facility may be held legally responsible, depending on the specific circumstances of the case in question.
A nurse may be held directly liable for malpractice if their actions or inactions were negligent and resulted in patient harm. This includes failure to follow standard procedures, improper medication administration, and so on. Along with civil liability, nurses may also face professional consequences, including actions against their nursing license.
Hospitals may be held liable for the actions of their employees, including nurses, under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. Essentially, employers may be held responsible for the actions of their employees while the employees are performing job-related duties. So, if a nurse causes you an injury while administering necessary care in a way generally consistent with the treatment approach of the hospital, it’s likely that vicarious liability will apply and the hospital, rather than the nurse, will be responsible for the payment of compensation.
Negligent hiring may also result in negligence on the health care facility’s party. If a hospital fails to properly vet, train, or supervise a nurse, they might be held responsible for any harmful malpractice by the nurse in question. Hospitals may also be held liable for your injury if you can show it was related to organizational issues like understaffing.
In some cases, both the individual nurse and the hospital may share liability. How this liability is apportioned can depend on the specifics of the case, including the severity of the negligence and the roles of other staff members.
Can a hospital be held responsible for nursing malpractice, or only the individual nurse?
Either individual nurses or their employers may be held liable for nursing malpractice, depending on the circumstances of the case. In some instances, both are held responsible.
What role do expert witnesses play in nursing malpractice cases?
Expert witnesses in nursing malpractice cases are typically health care professionals who provide insight into the accepted standard of care in cases like yours, whether and how a nurse failed to meet it, and how the harm you suffered may relate to this failure. Expert testimony is often crucial in establishing negligence.
How do attorneys’ fees work in nursing malpractice cases?
At Crain Brogdon, we only charge fees as a percentage of settlements. This is called a contingency fee system, and it means you don’t need to be concerned about wasting money if you’re considering coming to us for a consultation about your case.
How does a nursing malpractice suit affect the nurse’s professional license?
A nursing malpractice suit can lead to an investigation by the Texas Board of Nursing, which may result in disciplinary actions against the nurse’s license. These actions can range from fines and mandated education to suspension or revocation of the license.
Can previous malpractice by a nurse be used as evidence?
Previous incidents of malpractice may be used as evidence if they are relevant to establishing a pattern of negligence or incompetence. The admissibility of such evidence depends on specific case circumstances, so you’ll have to discuss the specific details of your situation with your attorney if this may be a factor in your case.
Are there any limits on damages awarded in nursing malpractice cases?
Texas law imposes caps on non-economic damages (such as for pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases. Economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, are not capped. There are also caps on punitive damages in Texas medical malpractice cases.
Subpar medical care can irreversibly change your life for the worse. Not only that, it can leave you with massive financial difficulties related to medical expenses, lost earning capacity, and other costs. If you don’t seek compensation, the party responsible for your situation will get away with negligence while you’re left to pick up the pieces.
Don’t let this be your fate. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case, either on our online webform or over the phone at (214) 522-9404.
Quentin Brogdon has over thirty years of experience and expertise in the field of personal injury trial law. He is board certified in both personal injury trial law and civil trial advocacy. Quentin has received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating. This rating reflects an attorney’s ethics and abilities according to reviews from fellow attorneys. [ Attorney Bio ]