Nurse lawsuit cases are a bit different than other lawsuits involving doctors. Most states’ laws on negligence actions against physicians include a requirement that the physician commit a breach of a duty owed to the individual; that is, the doctor in question fails to do what a reasonably competent individual would have done under the same circumstances. Medical cases involving nurses fall under this broader umbrella of medical malpractice instances. Medical malpractice happens when a health care provider has a responsibility to maintain a certain level of care in a specific scope of practice, but who fails to uphold that standard either through inadequate performance or for some other reason, which results in harm to the individual who receives care from the physician. These cases can result in substantial monetary damages as well as mental anguish.
Nurse lawsuit cases fall into two major categories based on the nature of the negligence that results in harm: misdiagnosis and omission of required treatment. In the case of misdiagnosis, there has been a trend for doctors to make diagnoses of various medical conditions without properly diagnosing the condition that they treat. For example, it may be that a child is diagnosed with a broken arm or back, and recommended physical therapy to correct the condition. However, under the guidance of a physician assistant, the appropriate treatment would have been provided, and the child would not have been placed in a position where he or she could have sustained permanent damage.
Similarly, the issue of neglect comes up quite frequently in nurse lawsuit cases. Negligence occurs when a professional fails to diagnose a condition in which they deem it should be treated, yet perform actions in which they should more appropriately seek to avoid harm to the patient. Some common examples of this include failure to monitor patients properly, or prescribing medications that the nurse knows or should know are detrimental to the patient’s health. Other examples of neglect include ignoring basic safety measures, such as not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, making sure the surgical room has adequate lighting and sound equipment, keeping patients in the appropriate room or bedding, and failing to promptly report any patient’s serious or hazardous medical condition to anyone outside of the healthcare provider’s office staff.
In contrast, there have been increasing instances of intentional misconduct in medical malpractice cases over the last few years. For example, in some states, there have been increased incidences of physicians writing the wrong prescription labels on patients’ prescriptions, and then writing false prescription claims with these labels in order to try and get paid for the fraudulent claims. Likewise, in other states, there have been attempts by doctors and clinics to cover up their negligence via legal tactics, such as denying liability. For example, in one case, a dentist claimed that the patient did not require anesthesia during a tooth extraction. After a legal battle, it was ruled that the patient actually did need anesthesia, and that the dentist was legally duty bound to supply the anesthesia that the patient needed.
Nurse lawsuit cases also tend to be high-value because they deal with relatively trivial legal issues. For example, in some medical malpractice or dental lawsuits, the plaintiff’s lawyer may seek damages based on emotional distress and pain and suffering. However, there are very few other damages that can be awarded in this type of case. Conversely, in legal cases where the plaintiff has sought damages based on negligence, the damages sought may include medical bills, a loss of income, and so on. Sometimes, lawyers will attempt to have courts to award punitive damages against doctors and institutions involved in medical malpractice or dental malpractice.
However, in some areas, medical malpractice lawsuits have become more popular than others. In large cities with a large number of African American, Hispanic, and other minority nurses, these lawsuits are more common. On the other hand, in many major cities and rural areas, the litigation process is much slower due to a lack of qualified personnel to handle the cases. In short, while nurses are suing their employers for injuries or pain and suffering, lawyers are bringing medical malpractice and dental malpractice lawsuits to court. The outcome may vary by city and region.