The Dangers of Hospital and Nursing Negligence
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathy McArthur with McArthur Law Firm.
While most nurses and doctors are highly trained professionals committed to the health and wellbeing of their patients, negligence by a medical professional can cause severe consequences when it does occur. Hospital and nursing negligence typically falls into the realm of medical malpractice; medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional such as a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or medical facility, such as a clinic, hospital, or emergency room, does not exercise a proper standard of care, which results in the serious injury or wrongful death of a patient. The standard of care in this case refers to what another medical professional with the same training in the same position could reasonably be expected to do or not do.
When hospitals and medical staff are negligent, the following injuries and conditions may occur:
- Heart attack
- Internal damage (i.e. bleeding, organ perforation, etc.)
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Oxygen-deprivation injuries (i.e. neurological damage, respiratory damage)
- Worsening of an existing condition due to delay in diagnosis and/or treatment
Hospital and nursing negligence may lead to new and worsened conditions.
One of the biggest difficulties with medical malpractice is that people seeking medical care are typically not in the best of health to begin with. This can make them more vulnerable to developing additional health conditions and may make it harder for them to recover.
Similarly, those who seek out medical care for an existing condition but are treated negligently may find that instead of improving, their condition has worsened. A common example of this is when someone seeks medical care for their symptoms and yet is not prescribed the correct tests, or the test results are interpreted incorrectly; as a result of this failure or delay in diagnosis, particularly with degrading conditions like cancer, the condition may not be treated until it has already caused irreversible damage and is much harder to fight. In this scenario, the patient and their family may be eligible to seek compensation from the negligent care providers who created the need for additional treatment in addition to a worsened prognosis.
If you suspect negligence, document it.
One of the biggest signs that negligence may be occurring in a medical environment is when a doctor or nurse refuses to discuss the details of a treatment or a procedure. A patient’s medical records should be available to them at all times, and medical staff should be willing to answer any questions openly. A reticence to admit to the details of a treatment could indicate that negligence played a part in the resulting damage. If you suspect a hospital, nurse, or other medical professional has been negligent in some way, it’s important to document that however you can.
For example, if a hospital’s facilities do not appear clean, take photographs. If the patient is not receiving timely care, take note of the exact intervals of time between when the patient is attended by a medical provider. Similarly, if a nurse or medical professional does not follow proper sanitization procedures such as washing their hands or wearing a mask before interacting with the patient, take notes to document the event and save any communications between yourself and the hospital.
Some kinds of evidence may be difficult to obtain from a hospital, nurse, or medical professional. When this is the case, it’s important to reach out to a medical malpractice attorney; these lawyers understand medical law and can quickly detect if a patient’s rights have been violated during treatment, as well as identifying options for recovery. To learn more about hospital and nursing negligence, or for help investigating your claim, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney in your area.