Can I Sue a Nurse for a Medical Error?
For any medical malpractice claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that the medical professional owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and, as a result, you sustained injuries and losses (damages) of that breach. This means that if a nurse’s negligence caused your injuries, you can hold him or her accountable, too.
But suing a nurse can be different from suing a doctor, surgeon, or hospital. This is because nurses serve in many capacities and at many facilities, and the path to a successful medical negligence claim may be different from one place to the next. This is why you want to talk to a Maryland medical malpractice attorney if you believe your injuries were the result of nursing negligence.
Today, we want to look at some of the different types of nursing-related negligence claims you may need to file.
Nursing home abuse or neglect claims
Sometimes a person reaches a stage in their condition requiring round-the-clock care offered in a nursing home. Since the patient lives in the facility, they need medical care and other services to thrive. But sometimes, things that should be handled by nurses are actually handled by orderlies, who do not have the same training for the administration of medicines or treatment plans. Therefore, when you're filing a nursing malpractice or negligence claim in a nursing home, you may also need to name the facility in your lawsuit.
Filing a claim against a hospital nurse
You will encounter nurses throughout a hospital setting, and if they are negligent, the nurse and the hospital are likely liable for a malpractice claim. However, you should know that not all nurses are hospital employees; some may be independent contractors, or part of another organization which allows them to travel for work.
There may be additional complications if the incident occurred in an ER setting, as well. This is because the conditions of an emergency room are, by nature, very different from the conditions of, say, a general practice or outpatient surgery. As such, actions taken by nurses in an ER setting may be analyzed under a different standard. This does not mean that ER nurses are exempt from medical malpractice claims; it just means that you should consult with us before you file a lawsuit so we can help you.
Claims against private or in-home nurses
A nurse practitioner or private nurse can work independently and take on many of a doctor's functions. You may come into contact with an in-home nurse when recovering from surgery or when you have a condition requiring at-home care. They can provide care services like:
- Prescribing medications
- Physical assessment of patients
- Establishing medical diagnosis
- Providing emergency care
- Referring patients to other healthcare providers
- Ordering, performing, and interpreting lab tests
An error in one of these tasks may make them legally responsible if they’ve caused harm to you or a loved one.
Filing claims against school nurses
One final place you can encounter a nurse is in a school setting, most often for your children. These nurses are not exempt from legal action because they must undergo similar training to other nurses. Their role is different, but they have the same training and legal responsibilities toward their patients. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that a school will not be equipped with the same medical supplies as a hospital or clinic. For example, if your child has a food allergy but you do not supply an epi pen, or fail to inform the school about the allergy, the only option that nurse may have is to call 9-1-1.
If a school nurse is responsible for your child’s injuries, or fails to take appropriate steps to address an injury or illness, the school and/or school district may also be liable. It is worth noting that the rules for private schools and public schools (especially in terms of filing a lawsuit) may be different, and that’s something to discuss with one of our lawyers.
What are the most common nursing mistakes that lead to malpractice?
The American Nurses Association provides guidelines on what nurses should provide to patients and how they must treat them. When they do not adhere to the code of ethics, it can cause personal injury or death. While some cases are negligence, others involve intentional harm, like a nurse intentionally injecting air into patients recovering from surgery. The most common nursing mistakes include the following:
- Failure to monitor
- Inappropriate use of medical equipment
- Medication error
- Failure to communicate with the patient or physician
When a nurse is negligent, they are not exempt from legal action. You can hold the nurse and other parties responsible for some nursing malpractice claims. You will need an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the negligence and who is liable, aside from the nurse. Depending on the setting, doctors, attending physicians, nursing homes, and others are also responsible.
The statute of limitations for malpractice claims in Maryland
Maryland medical malpractice claims must be filed within five years of the date of the injury or three years of the date of discovering the injury, whichever comes first. When the claim involves a minor, like a school nurse's case, the deadline is extended to their twenty-first birthday. While these deadlines exist, it is best to file a nursing negligence claim as soon as possible.
Society trusts nurses; they are the first line of defense when we are sick, and when they fail us, it is devastating. Nurses in any setting must be ready for anything and cannot act negligently. Nurses must check patients and obtain information vital to a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you suffer an injury or worsening condition from nursing malpractice, you should consult our Maryland nursing malpractice lawyers. Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., has multiple offices around Maryland where you can schedule an initial consultation. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation.