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Surgical nurses can face medical malpractice claims too

When you go to a Pennsylvania hospital for a surgical procedure, more than just the surgeon is in the operating suite. An anesthesiologist, surgical technicians and nurses more than likely assist with the procedure. Each member of the team has a specific role to play in your surgery. If even one person fails to perform a task properly, you could end up with serious or permanent injuries.

When something does go wrong during a surgical procedure, most people turn to the surgeon first. However, an error by a surgical nurse actually may be the source of your injuries.

Nursing standard of care

Up until 1975, the medical industry failed to consider nurses as professionals and the standard of care applied to them was the same as that applied to people not working in the medical field. Then, the law began to recognize that nursing requires a certain amount of expertise, so their actions require a higher standard as well. Therefore, beginning on July 9, 1975, nurses could face medical malpractice claims for their mistakes.

The standard of care for nurses works similarly to that applied to doctors. For instance, if a nurse's function is to dress wounds, then he or she must meet the same standard as another nurse who dresses wounds. This also means that only another nurse may now provide an opinion regarding the conduct of a nurse.

Most common nursing medical malpractice claims

The majority of claims against nurses tend to occur after failing to do one of the following:

  • Communicate
  • Monitor and assess
  • Document
  • Properly use equipment
  • Follow the chain of command
  • Advocate for a patient

When a nurse's actions violate the standards of care for these and other duties, the result could mean harm to you and a medical malpractice claim.

Elements of a nursing malpractice claim

Similar to cases against doctors and surgeons, the courts require you to demonstrate the following four elements when alleging nursing malpractice:

  • You were owed a duty
  • That duty was breached
  • You suffered an injury
  • The nurse's breach of duty caused your injury

If you provide the court with evidence that establishes these four elements, you could receive damages for your injuries. In order to successfully prove your claim, you more than likely will need to prove that the nurse violated the relevant standard of care.

Understanding what that standard of care should be in your particular situation often requires the assistance of an attorney. However, that isn't the only hurdle you must overcome in a medical malpractice claim. Having a strong ally in your corner could provide you with the experience and knowledge needed to get you the compensation you deserve.

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The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller
2755 Century Boulevard
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Toll Free: 866-360-5064
Phone: 610.816.0342
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The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller
400 South 4th Street
Hamburg, PA 19526

Phone: 610.816.0342
Fax: 610.372.8671
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