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Top Causes of Malpractice Claims Involving Nurses

What Are the Top Causes of Malpractice Claims Involving Nurses?

Nurses are named as defendants in thousands of malpractice cases yearly. Their involvement is typically not as clear as that of doctors or other medical professionals. If you or a loved one has been harmed in this type of incident, Allentown personal injury lawyers are available to hear more about your case and see what compensation may be possible.

Patient Monitoring

A 2021 study reviewed the top causes of malpractice claims that involve nurses. This study researched 850 malpractice claims to identify what led to the claims and the result of those claims. Tragically, these were not minor issues: The research found that death resulted from 37% of these cases, and long-term disability involved many others. The top cause of all malpractice claims involving nurses was patient monitoring, with 45% of all malpractice claims involving a facility's nursing staff being related to this area. This type of monitoring involves keeping an eye on critical patient health measures. This includes heart rate, blood pressure, blood-oxygen saturation, among others. Monitoring is critical in almost all situations whether you're receiving long-term care or acute care. Appropriate monitoring is necessary to ensure that a patient is doing well and does not require any active intervention. A nurse is expected to take action if a health metric rises or falls above a certain level. Failure to intervene when these parameters are breached can lead to harm. This may also result in a malpractice claim.

Medication Administration

Medication administration was related to 18% of all of the malpractice claims in the study. One of the top duties of a nurse is to administer medication per the instructions given. This means that the nurse is responsible for fulfilling the prescription, administering the medication at appropriate levels, and monitoring the patient to ensure they respond appropriately. A failure to appropriately fulfill a medication or ensure that a patient is reacting appropriately to a medication can lead to potentially devastating side effects or even death. Malpractice claims can come from a failure to (a) administer medication, (b) monitor for appropriate side effects, or (c) administer an inappropriate dose of the medication. They can also arise if a nurse fails to report any issues to a doctor, surgeon, physician's assistant, or higher-level nurse.

Patient Falls

Unfortunately, patient falls are somewhat common, making up 14% of the malpractice claims in the 2021 study. These injuries are particularly common in long-term care facilities. A large part of the job of a nurse and other health care professionals is to ensure the overall safety of their patients. In many cases, patients are in a medically fragile state and thus are unable to properly care for themselves. As such, they must be appropriately monitored, restrained, and assisted when moving. A failure to do so can lead to a major injury for the patient: According to survey data, 41% of all falls involving malpractice claims resulted in the patient's death. Patient falls are often preventable via appropriate monitoring of a patient or the installation of safety equipment, like guard rails. If that equipment has not been installed properly or if the patient is not being monitored appropriately, a serious injury is possible.

Pressure Injuries

Pressure injuries were the cause of 10% of malpractice claims in the study, and they are all too common in many assisted living and long-term care facilities. As a result of their conditions, patients are often forced to lie down for extended periods. One of the many jobs of nurses is to make sure that patients are regularly moved and rotated. Doing so is not only good for their physical and mental health but is necessary to protect against bed sores and pressure injuries, which can result from the skin that has been left against a surface for too long. A failure to be moved properly means that bed sores may develop, and in some people, bed sores can cause long-term injury or death from infection. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing malpractice and would like to speak to an Allentown personal injury lawyer, contact Metzger & Kleiner. With years of experience in this field, we understand your pain and can help fight for your needs. You can schedule an appointment in our Philadelphia or Allentown offices by calling us at 610-435-4700.

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