Common Errors That Can Result to Nursing Negligence

Nursing negligence can happen when nurses commit mistakes in giving basic care. It is defined by Bernzweig as the “failure to behave in a reasonable and prudent manner, whether as a layperson or a professional and whether engaged in the simplest or most complex type of activity”. If the patient is harmed due to this failure, then the nurse may be considered negligent and may face legal action like a malpractice suit. It is important for nurses to identify work situations in which negligence is likely to happen and to make necessary steps to avoid them.

There are different errors which can result to nursing negligence. A nurse can commit negligence when doing assessment. Failing to collect appropriate data and to properly document will increase the likelihood of negligence. For example, when the nurse fails to record a spike in the patient’s temperature, the patient can suffer complications from a possible infection indicated by the fever which could have been addressed earlier. If the nurse notices abnormal laboratory values, then fails to inform or point it out to the physician, the nurse might be held liable for negligence.

In the planning stage, nursing negligence happens when the nurse fails to identify a health problem in the care plan. Even if the nurse includes the correct problem, but records it vaguely by making it harder for other members of the health care team to know, negligence may also occur. A nurse is also negligent when he or she ignores even just a part of the care plan. For instance, if vital signs are supposed to be monitored every hour but the nurse checks just once during the shift, the nurse will have been negligent if the patient suffers because of less monitoring. Failing to fully explain discharge instructions can also result to negligence.

Perhaps the most common errors by negligent nurses are committed when doing nursing interventions. A common example is a medication error. Misreading medication labels, administering the wrong dose, and giving the drug to the wrong patient are some of the usual mistakes. Nurses have the responsibility to verify a doctor’s orders and carry them out exactly as prescribed with the patient’s safety in mind. Every medication must be checked every time to avoid dire consequences. Drug names can be confusing and nurses are advised to be extra careful when it comes to medication. Other common mistakes are failing to elevate the side rails to prevent falls, incorrectly applying a heating pad that may burn the patient, and failing to make the correct sponge count during an operation.

Nurses need to protect the patient at all times by being careful and prudent in providing care. They also need to protect themselves from being accused of malpractice. It does not matter if the nurse performs an action in good faith or did not intend to be negligent. As long as there is a breach of nursing duty which results to harm, the nurse can be held liable for negligence and malpractice. It is therefore helpful for nurses to identify common mistakes to avoid nursing negligence.

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