Most people associate medical malpractice with doctors and surgeons. What you may not know is that malpractice is also prevalent in nursing. In the past few years, statistics have shown that claims for nursing malpractice are increasing.
Four Elements of a Nursing Malpractice Claim
Everyone in the medical field is supposed to provide care that meets the required standard of care. The standard may be very specific to nurses or it may be more general. In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a nurse, there are four elements of medical malpractice that must be met. These requirements for nursing malpractice are the same as they are for any medical professional, including doctors and hospitals. The elements are:
Duty: There must be a duty owed to the patient. For example, the patient is owed a safe environment, and a nurse has a duty to follow physicians' orders for the patient.
Breach of duty: The specific duty owed to the patient has been breached, meaning that the duty has not been met. In terms of the safe environment, perhaps a nurse forgets to put the bed rail up and the patient falls. The nurse's failure to maintain the patient's safe environment would constitute a breach of duty.
Damages: The breach of duty must have caused injuries that result in damages. The injuries the patient suffered when falling out of bed are the damages that can be claimed. If the patient was not injured, there are no damages.
Causation: This is generally the most difficult element to prove in a medical malpractice lawsuit. There must be a direct cause-and-effect link between the breach of duty and the injury. The breach of duty must have caused the injury. In the example, if the nurse had not left the bed railing down, the patient would not have fallen. The nurse's breach of duty caused the injury.