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4 Common Examples of Nursing Malpractice

Nurses play a vital role in ensuring a patient is healthy, so there is little room for mistakes.

Generally, when we think of medical malpractice, we think of a doctor or surgeon that made a mistake during a procedure. However, any medical professional has the potential to act negligently, including the nurses. Nurses often get overlooked in malpractice cases, but they play a vital role in ensuring a patient has a positive outcome.

Unfortunately, not all nurses act diligently, responsibly, and compassionately when carrying out their obligations. Four common examples of nursing malpractice include failure to monitor, medication errors, mistakes with routine procedures, and documentation errors. Each of these instances of potential malpractice may lead to patient injury, disease, and even death.

At the Snyder Law Group, we understand how critical it is for malpractice victims to get compensation to cover their injuries. Further, we know most victims crave closure and resolution after being betrayed by their once-trusted medical team. We strive to secure justice for victims and their families so they can begin rebuilding their lives. We fight to hold negligent nurses, hospitals, and doctors accountable for the wrongs they caused unsuspecting and vulnerable patients. Our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are here to fight for you and other victims of medical mistakes.

Failure to Monitor

One of a nurse’s main jobs is to monitor and track their patient’s condition and vital signs throughout the patient’s stay. Even the slightest changes in the patient’s condition need to be reported on the patient’s record and to the physician responsible for that patient. These changes are crucial because they can affect things like medication dosages and signs of an underlying illness. If a nurse fails to monitor their patient properly and it leads to injuries or worsened conditions, they can be held accountable for nursing malpractice.

Nurses who fail to monitor their patients adequately can cause injuries such as infected bed sores, missed medication, unchecked cardiac arrest, and even death. The National Library of Medicine issued a sobering report about the impact of inadequate observation and care by medical staff at nursing homes. According to the report, missed patient care was associated with adverse patient outcomes such as:

  • Pressure ulcers, 
  • Urinary tract infections, 
  • Falls, 
  • Critical incidents, and
  • Patient readmission.

As this report reminds us, nurses play a critical role in patient care and can help or greatly hinder a patient’s overall hospital experience and well-being. 

Medication Errors

Another essential task nurses take on is administering medication to patients. Even the slightest mistake in medication doses can harm a patient’s health. For example, if the nurse doesn’t verify the patient’s medication allergies, they might give the patient the wrong antibiotic and trigger a severe allergic reaction. Malpractice in nursing may occur if these medication errors lead to a patient’s injury

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports, medication errors are “preventable” events that can lead patients to experience any of the following adverse effects:

  • Death
  • Birth defects, 
  • Hospitalization, and 
  • Permanent or temporary disability. 

For example, RaDonda Vaught, a former Tennessee nurse, mistakenly gave a patient vecuronium (a paralyzing agent) instead of the patient’s anxiety medication, Versed. Tragically, the medical error led to the patient’s death 24 hours later. Nurses who don’t diligently double-check the dosage and name of the medication against the information in the patient’s chart put the patient at risk. When this happens, they should be accountable for their actions, especially where they needlessly cause the death of a patient who may otherwise have lived a long and healthy life. 

Mistakes with Routine Procedures

You often see nurses going in and out of hospital rooms to take a patient’s vitals, start their IVs, put catheters in, or draw blood for tests and upcoming procedures. These are routine procedures that nurses perform multiple times a day, but that doesn’t mean an error can’t occur. Because they do these procedures so often, nurses may make careless mistakes because they operate on muscle memory and are on autopilot, potentially leading to nursing malpractice. 

Nurses may make these critical errors because of the pressures of understaffing, hospital crowding, poor training, inattention, fatigue, or other reasons. Regardless of the “why” behind the errors, nurses who fail to attentively and adequately carry out routine procedures put patients at risk of injury, complications, and even death. After all, if nurses fail to give a severely injured patient the correct cardiac medicine, the consequences can be fatal. 

Further, gaps in the medical records, such as adverse patient condition events, can lead to errors by other healthcare members, such as doctors, by not providing the accurate information needed to make a reasoned decision. For example, the lack of an updated medical record may lead doctors to fail to diagnose a critical condition. Nurses should take care to act intentionally and responsibly, even when carrying out rote procedures.

Documentation Errors

Nurses must routinely update the patient’s records whenever they interact with a patient. . While monitoring a patient or performing routine procedures, they must be precise in documenting details of the patient’s condition, including their vitals, medications, dosages, and patient complaints. If they fail to document this information or do so incorrectly, it can lead to other medical mistakes and potentially constitute hospital negligence.

Nurses should also ensure that their method of inputting updates is clear and legible. For example, if they handwrote the update, they should ensure they put the note in a visible place and that their handwriting is orderly. Further, every update should have a timestamp to give the medical team appropriate context. Some medical complaints are time sensitive, and thus it is imperative to have an accurate timeline for the patient’s health, especially if they are in the hospital. 

Without proper documentation, a patient’s medical team cannot be sure whether someone from the facility performed a procedure. For example, in a 2016 case, Susan Meek had a hysterectomy. After the procedure, her physician instructed the nurses to frequently examine Susan’s legs to monitor a clot and ensure it did not grow or worsen. The nurses failed to update the charts, so the team could not determine whether anyone performed the checks. Sadly, the clot in Susan’s leg grew, and she suffered severe nerve injury. As you can see, documentation errors can constitute medical malpractice and lead to serious consequences.  

Have You or a Loved One Suffered Injuries as a Result of Medical Malpractice? Contact The Snyder Law Group Today

The Snyder Law Group, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore nursing malpractice attorneys understand the frustration of going up against an insurance company, medical professional, or other party that refuses to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior. You can take heart in knowing talented and experienced lawyers are ready to work for you. We are experienced in handling personal injury claims of medical malpractice and have secured hundreds of millions in verdicts and settlements*. Please visit our website,, for more information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2023 at 12:17 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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