In my experience as a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, one of the most common ways that nurses commit serious hospital errors is in the administration of medications.
Under rules and regulations of the Texas Board of Nursing, nurses are required to understand the rationale and effects of medications that they administer. If they have questions, the standard of care requires them to get answers before proceeding.
Two cases that I’ve recently reviewed show how things can go wrong.
Giving the wrong drug
In one case, a young pre-teen girl was sitting peacefully in her hospital bed playing on her phone when a registered nurse pushed a pain medication into her IV (intravenous) line. The girl immediately reacted with what looked like a seizure. The same nurse pushed an emergency button and numerous physicians and nurses rushed to the room. The patient’s father was escorted out of the room, and, while his daughter survived, as of now she still hasn’t woken up.
When we reviewed the medical records in that case, some things just didn’t add up. I don’t say this lightly, but we are now investigating whether the nurse falsified the patient’s hospital medical record to cover up a medication error. Our team at Painter Law Firm knows where to look in electronic medical and billing records to uncover hidden mistakes like this.
Giving the right drug the wrong way
In another case, a registered nurse at a hospital had taken care of a patient on several previous occasions for outpatient treatment. She had gotten into the routine of doing the same thing on each encounter with the patient. One day, though, the physician changed the patient’s medication dosage and the instructions for how it should be administered.
The nurse figured it was an error, and, instead of asking the doctor for clarification, decided to administer the medication the same way she had done in the past.
After going home, the patient started experiencing unusual symptoms and pain and had to go to the emergency room to get checked out. It was there that they discovered that the nurse had disregarded the physician’s instructions.
Who is responsible for nursing errors?
Most licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses working in a hospital are employees of the hospital. In some instances, hospitals are short-staffed and may use a staffing agency to fill those needs. In those cases, the staffing agency supplies the hospital with nursing personnel who are employees of the staffing agency.
Under Texas law, the employer of a nurse who commits medical malpractice may be held responsible for the nursing mistakes under a legal theory called vicarious liability.
In addition, the hospital may have direct liability for failing to train and supervise nursing personnel, which are necessary hospital functions to ensure patient safety.
If you’ve been seriously injured by a nursing or medication error, a top-rated Texas medical malpractice lawyer can help you evaluate your potential case.