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Nurses: Protect yourself from a medical malpractice lawsuit

Medical malpractice constitutes a serious offense, yet most cases occur by complete accident. Whether a court finds you negligent depends entirely on the circumstances of the potential injury of a patient.

To protect yourself from lengthy medical malpractice proceedings, the risk of losing your license and the potential of injury to a patient, it proves essential to follow necessary steps to ensure your job security in your hospital or clinic.

nderstanding the legality of medical malpractice

The United State defines medical malpractice as a legal matter in which a physician acted negligently in care for the patient, and the negligence resulted in injury. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must prove that:

  1. A professional duty was owed to the patient
  2. A breach of such duty occurred
  3. Injury resulted because of the breach
  4. Damages resulted

A nurse’s negligence varies greatly. In medical malpractice lawsuits, when a nurse or physician failed to use the care that a responsible person in that role would use, negligence arises. Some examples of cited negligence include:

  • A nurse failed to diagnose a patient properly or at all
  • A patient lacked the opportunity to receive proper treatment due to the misjudgment of a nurse
  • A nurse forgot to mention the dangerous side effects from taking certain medication

Protect yourself by protecting your patients

The Washington Post reported in 2016 that the third most common reason for death in the United States includes medical malpractice. Not all 251,000 deaths occurring from 2000 to 2008 cited by Johns Hopkins researchers constituted a need for medical malpractice trials, but the numbers exemplify the need for ensuring safety and knowledge in the hospital or clinic.

By understanding the risks associated with patients, you may directly lower your chances of being charged and convicted in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some ways to lower your risk include:

  • Document all information
  • Communicate with patients
  • Communicate with other physicians
  • Monitor patients carefully
  • Consistently check chart for any changes
  • Report discrepancies

For the safety of your job and your patients, acting with complete care proves crucial. As a nurse, you may have the ability to lower your risk of being involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit by using cautious methods and understanding where you or a colleague exhibits negligence.

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