Nursing Negligence and Medical Malpractice
In Florida, nurses are licensed and regulated by the Florida Board of Nursing, a division of the Florida Board of Health. In a recent year, there were almost 300,000 Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses in Florida:
- 238,209 – Registered Nurses (RN)
- 59,868 – Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
- 298,077 – Total Professionally Active Nurses
Despite these numbers, The Florida Center of Nursing reports a shortage of an estimated 12,493 RN positions in the state. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% growth rate in recent years, “... much faster than the average for all occupations.” It has been suggested that Florida is experiencing a nursing crisis. There may very well be a correlation between understaffed hospitals and nursing errors.
Examples of Nursing Errors Leading to Patient Injuries and Deaths
Nursing errors are all too common, often resulting in harm, injury, or death. Common nursing errors include, but are not limited to the following:
- Medication errors – dispensing incorrect medication and/or dosage
- Infection issues – HAI, or Healthcare Associated Infections. The CDC reports 722,000 hospital infections, 75,000 hospital deaths per year
- Charting and documentation errors – reporting incorrect patient information or failing to report patient data
- Failing to properly monitor the patient’s condition; failing to note changes in condition
- Failing to have or provide the correct patient information during a medical emergency
- Patient falls – failing to support the patient, improperly transporting the patient, resulting in falls
- IV and catheter errors – can easily result in infection and skin and tissue damage
- Diagnostic errors – failure to diagnose, waiting too long to diagnose, incorrect diagnosis
- Treating a patient when it was a doctor's responsibility
- Communication errors – not communicating status of patient; not notifying next shift; discharging patient without informing medical provider or caretaker
- Failing to follow the doctor’s medical orders
- Improper use of medical equipment or not knowing how to operate equipment
- Not adhering to hospital protocols or general procedures
- Failing to communicate patient’s symptoms to physician or supervisor
- Ignoring patient’s symptoms
- Not responding to patient’s calls for help
- Inattentive nurse
Nurses Have a Duty to Adhere to Professional Standard of Care
A nurse has a duty to provide professional treatment – treatment that a skilled, reasonable nurse would have or should have provided under the same or similar circumstances. When a nurse fails to adhere to the standard of care either by act or omission, resulting in harm or death to the patient, medical malpractice may likely have occurred.
Nursing Malpractice May Involve Multiple Defendants
Medical malpractice cases may involve multiple defendants. In addition to the nurse, the nurse’s employer or employers often share liability.
- Emergency transport, EMT
- Emergency room
- Specialists, consultants
- Other nurses and medical personnel
- Medical center
- Doctor’s office
- Medical equipment company, manufacturers
- Drug manufacturers
Compensatory Damages for Victims of Nursing Malpractice in Florida
Every case is unique and the type and amount of compensation depends on the particular circumstances involved. Damages are proscribed in Sec. 766.202, Florida Statutes, and include medical expenses, wage loss and loss of earning capacity. Noneconomic damages refers to nonfinancial losses and includes pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, and more.
In cases where the negligent party’s conduct was extreme, reckless, or otherwise egregious, punitive damages may be pursued. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for their extreme conduct.
When a Loved One Lost Their Life as a Result of Nursing Negligence
The surviving legal heirs may pursue compensation for their loved one’s death. This may include lost support and services, the value of future lost support and services, loss of companionship, pain and suffering (mental anguish), medical and funeral expenses and more, as proscribed in Florida Statute 768.21.
You can reach Miami Personal Injury Attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email J.P. directly at [email protected].