When we think of malpractice, we don’t think about nurses. Serious mistakes in healthcare can occur in the rank of nurses.

Nursing care is the first line of healthcare. Nurses spend more time with patients than doctors do.

Errors in treating a patient. Harmful errors include the failure to provide required nursing care, poor technique that leads to serious problems, negligence in treating a patient, ignoring patient concerns, mismanaging complications. The worst errors can be doing nothing when some kind of action is clearly required.

Drug errors. Nurses typically administer in-patient medication, and this can be a dangerous moment. The medication may interact negatively with another medication. A nurse can administer the wrong medication entirely, or the wrong dose of that medication.

Nurses are expected to perform many tasks in a safe way that does not harm patients. Opportunities for error include:

  • Medication errors
  • Wrong use of medical equipment
  • Failure to respond to an emergency situation
  • Failure to document a change in the patient’s condition
  • Unsanitary practice leading to infection

Sometimes patients and their families are reluctant to file a suit against members of nursing staff. They should understand that nursing malpractice cases are generally against the hospitals and clinics where the nurses are stationed. Commonly, the hospital has a systemic problem that means the nurses are poorly trained or understaffed.

Not every error that occurs rises to the level of malpractice. Mistakes do happen and will continue to happen. Malpractice occurs when a provider – nurse, doctor or institution – provides a quality of care that falls well below expected levels, resulting in serious injury to the patient.