Can you sue a nurse for medical malpractice?

nurses in a new york hospital hallway

If you’ve been injured or have become ill, you trust that the care you receive from doctors, surgeons, nurses, and any other medical professionals who treat you will meet a specific standard of care. Nurses are highly-trained professionals who provide a significant amount of hands-on care to patients, even when doctors have oversight authority. If a nurse’s error causes a patient harm, they could be liable for nursing malpractice.

Here, the experienced New York nursing malpractice lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C. will discuss nursing malpractice, how it occurs, and what legal rights injured patients have. If you or someone you love has been the victim of nursing malpractice, contact us at (855)-TOP-FIRM right away for a 100% free case evaluation.

How does nursing malpractice happen?

When a nurse fails to fulfill their duties in a manner that a normally competent nurse would in the same situation, and that error causes the patient harm, then nursing malpractice likely has occurred. Some common errors or omissions that could qualify as nursing malpractice include:

  • Failure to assess and monitor a patient
  • Failure to communicate issues or concerns about a patient’s condition. This includes things that the nurse may observe or something they should have observed
  • Failure to use equipment responsibly
  • Failure to document pertinent information about the patient, their injuries/illness, and treatment

Some specific examples of potential nursing negligence include:

  • Failure to adequately monitor or observe a patient in their care
  • Failure to respond to a patient’s call for assistance promptly
  • Failure check the patient’s vital signs at the right times
  • Failure to take the proper steps to prevent or identify and treat bedsores
  • Administering the wrong medication or gives the wrong dose
  • Failure to follow the proper post-surgery protocols

While a doctor or surgeon may direct some of these tasks and may have the ultimate responsibility for them, the nurse is often the one who is responsible for following the doctor’s orders and doing so with adequate care and caution.

Who is responsible for nursing malpractice?

If you’ve been harmed by a nurse’s failure to adhere to an adequate standard of medical care, you may be wondering, “who is responsible for their negligence?” Depending on the circumstances, the hospital or the attending doctor will typically be responsible.

The hospital may be liable if:

  • The nurse was an employee of the medical facility
  • The patient was injured while the nurse was fulfilling a duty
  • The nurse was not being directed by an independent doctor (meaning, one not employed by the hospital)

Hospitals are commonly responsible for nursing malpractice because nurses are usually hospital employees.

The attending doctor may be liable if:

  • The doctor was present at the time of the error
  • The doctor could have prevented the nurse from making the error 

If a nurse was under supervision by the attending doctor when the mistake was made, the hospital may not be responsible, even if the nurse is an employee. Disputes often arise when it comes to determining whether the doctor had control of the nurse’s actions and could have prevented the patient from being harmed.

The hospital could also be liable if the doctor gave the nurse incorrect instructions that they should have known were wrong and would harm the patient. If the nurse follows those instructions despite their better knowledge, the hospital facility could bear responsibility for the patient’s injuries.

Proving nursing malpractice

Proving medical malpractice claims requires solid evidence that the medical professional did not provide the same level of care that a responsible professional in their same position would. Nursing malpractice cases are no different.

To prove that a nurse committed malpractice, it will likely be necessary to secure a qualified medical expert’s testimony. This medical expert will usually be a nurse or someone else trained in the same specific medical field. This person will be required to testify and confirm what a competent medical professional would have done in the same situation and whether the nurse’s actions or inactions caused the patient harm.

Because proving malpractice can be challenging, it is crucial to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you. The right legal team will have specific experience handling medical malpractice claims like yours. It will also have access to a wide variety of knowledgeable medical experts who can testify on your behalf. Don’t trust your nursing malpractice claim to just any attorney. Choose a lawyer and legal team with the right skills and resources to handle your case.

Contact a New York Nursing Malpractice Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has been the victim of nursing malpractice, know that the lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. are here to help. Our New York nursing malpractice attorneys have extensive experience handling these types of cases, and we’ll be ready to put our skills and resources to work for you.

You can reach us by calling (855) TOP-FIRM, by filling out our free accident case evaluation form, or by chatting with us live today.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.