A few months ago, the BBC reported the suicide of a nurse who inadvertently dispatched a radio station’s prank phone call to the hospital room of the Duchess of Cambridge who was staying there following a bout of morning sickness in her recent pregnancy. In another case in Seattle, a 50-year-old nurse with a flawless 24-year nursing history committed suicide when she accidentally provided a deadly overdose of calcium to a baby in a neonatal unit. The stress and public scrutiny toward both of these nurses led them to believe that they should never have made the mistakes in the first place, and left them wondering whether or not nursing was the best choice of profession.
As patients, we put our trust and care in these very nurses every time we visit the hospital. We appreciate and are comforted by their demeanor, kind words and ability to reach us in a special way during a time of need. But, just because we respect and trust them on a higher level, does it mean they are flawless? How do nursing errors occur in the first place, and how common are they?
One in seven Medicare patients have been found to be victims of medical errors, and some of those errors trace back to errors made on the parts of nurses. Nursing errors are caused by lack of attention to detail, distractions in the work place, and inadvertent dispensing of medications, whether it be the wrong medication or an improper dose. Other errors occur when nurses take on extra shifts due to short staffing or needing overtime wages, or just trying to be “everything to everyone all the time.” Other causes are lack of compiling and reviewing the medical history of the patient, disregarding the appropriate time to administer medication, or not administering a complete dose of the treatment. These errors lead to medical investigation among the staff, the hospital, and the nurse in question.
Despite the nursing errors that make in the news, like the ones mentioned above, many times errors don’t occur. Or, if they do, they are caught within the hospital’s own process of checks and balances. While a disastrous situation is sometimes averted, many nurses are still left feeling that there could have been potential harm to the very patient in their care.
If you or a loved one has suffered a debilitating after-effect or death as a result of a nursing error or other error in the health care system, seeking the advice of a New York law firm who specializes in nursing error malpractice suits will be your first course of action to settling your case.