Although many people think of medical malpractice as something that doctors commit, other healthcare professionals, like Registered Nurses, can also commit malpractice when caring for a patient. Given the role of registered nurses in a patient’s care, malpractice claims frequently involve errors such as medication errors, failure to monitor and communicate a patient’s condition, improper use of equipment, and failure to prepare patients for discharge.

Registered Nurse Malpractice Statistics

According to a study published by the Nurses Service Organization, the average nurse malpractice claim totaled $210,513, which had increased by over four percent in a five-year period. In addition, the average total expense of a malpractice claim that closed without an indemnity payment increased by an annual rate of 14.6 percent.

Obstetrics nurses had the highest average total malpractice claims among medical specialties, with the top claims arising from failure to identify and treat fetal distress or failure to notify obstetricians of infant respiratory distress. However, home care claims accounted for over 20 percent of all malpractice claims, with the number of claims against nurses working in hospital in-patient settings or aging services decreasing over a five-year period.

The most common injuries leading to nurse malpractice claims included pressure injuries, bedsores, and fatal injuries, accounting for approximately half of all nursing malpractice claims. Among all nurse malpractice claims, registered nurses were involved in 86.8 percent of claims, compared to 12.8 percent of claims involving licensed practical nurses or vocational nurses and less than one percent involving student nurses.

Top Causes for Registered Nurse Malpractice Claims

Although registered nurses perform numerous duties in a patient’s care, many registered nurse malpractice claims arise from several common causes of malpractice. Examples of the most frequent errors that lead to registered nurse malpractice claims include:

  • Medication errors: Registered nurses are responsible for administering medications to patients. Medication errors are one of the most common mistakes that nurses can make. Common medication errors include missing a patient’s medication dose, overdosing the patient, or giving medication to the wrong patient after neglecting to confirm the medication and the patient’s identity.
  • Failure to communicate with other members of the patient care team: Because nurses are the frontline of patient care, they have primary responsibility for monitoring a patient’s condition. Nurses are expected to document a patient’s vital signs and report changes in the patient's condition or the results of the patient’s diagnostic tests to the treating physician and other members of the care team. Nurses must also ensure that they communicate all information about a patient’s condition when handing the patient off at the end of their shift. 
  • Improper use of medical equipment: Nurses are also responsible for setting up and maintaining a patient’s medical equipment. Careless or reckless use of medical equipment can injure patients, including negligent insertion of needles, dropping equipment on patients, or not maintaining equipment like breathing or feeding tubes.
  • Inadequate post-discharge instructions: Registered nurses’ duties include communicating with patients upon discharge to provide post-discharge instructions. These instructions may include the medications the patient must take, follow-up appointments they should attend, and other care or exercises the patient should perform at home. Failing to review discharge orders with patients may result in the patient’s condition worsening due to inadequate care. 

Common Injuries Caused by Registered Nurse Malpractice

Registered nurse malpractice can cause patients to suffer various injuries or health complications, such as:

  • Lacerations and scarring
  • Burns
  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Ruptured blood vessels
  • Hypoxic/anoxic brain injuries
  • Birth injuries
  • Medication overdose/adverse reaction from contraindicated medications
  • Hospital-acquired infections

How Do You Know If You’ve Been Harmed by Registered Nurse Malpractice?

Whether you’ve experienced apparent injuries or health complications or you just suspect that something isn’t right with your medical care, how do you know whether you may have become the victim of registered nurse malpractice? Some of the top signs of nursing malpractice include:

  • You have persistent or worsening symptoms
  • You never or rarely see your nurse during in-patient care
  • You experience unusual bleeding, bruising, or swelling after a medical procedure
  • Your nurse dismisses your concerns, complaints, or questions
  • A nurse fails to take your medical history or vital signs
  • The nurse fails to confirm your identity or doesn’t answer your questions before administering medication or performing any procedure
  • You feel uncomfortable around your nurses
  • You don’t receive any post-discharge instructions

How Can an Attorney Help You with a Registered Nurse Malpractice Claim?

If you have a registered nurse malpractice claim, an attorney can help you pursue financial recovery from the negligent nurse and healthcare facility. First, an experienced nurse malpractice lawyer can thoroughly investigate your claims to recover evidence that shows your nurse provided substandard care and caused your injuries or medical complications. A lawyer will know what evidence you might need to prove your case, including expert testimony to establish the standard of care in your case and explain how your nurse’s actions fell below that standard.

An attorney can document your injuries and losses, including calculating future estimated expenses you will incur long after your case ends. That way, you will have the resources you need to fully recover from the harm caused by negligent nursing care.

A registered nurse malpractice lawyer can pursue your legal options for financial recovery, including pursuing insurance or legal claims against the negligent nurse and the hospital or healthcare facility that employs them. Your lawyer can vigorously negotiate with insurance adjusters or hospital representatives to reach a fair and full settlement of your claim. If necessary, a lawyer can also take your case to court and trial when litigation becomes necessary to pursue a favorable result.

An Experienced Nursing Malpractice Attorney Can Help You Seek Financial Recovery and Justice

When you’ve been harmed by careless or reckless treatment or care from a registered nurse, you may have the right to recover compensation for your additional medical care, costs of long-term care for prolonged or permanent disabilities, additional lost income or earning capacity, or pain and suffering. A knowledgeable registered nurse malpractice attorney can assist you with filing and pursuing legal claims to hold negligent nurses and healthcare providers accountable. Contact The Epstein Law Firm, P.A., today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options with our attorneys and learn more about how our firm will fight to obtain the financial relief and justice you deserve.