Medical malpractice is often preventable. According to statistics from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 80% of adverse events in the health care system are the result of human errors. Medical malpractice is not only committed by doctors but also by nurses and other health care professionals. In a recent article in Minority Nurse, Nicole Thomas, a legal nurse consultant shares some very interesting statistics about medical malpractice. She also gives the following tips to nurses to avoid being sued for medical malpractice:
- Nurses should make sure they always proprely document their work. When a nurse writes a clear and precise description of what happens to a patient when he is under her care it not only helps her and the staff make sure the patient is proprely being taken care but it also protects the nurse in case of a potential lawsuit. A nurse who defends herself by saying “I did it but I forgot to document it” will have trouble convincing the jury in a medical malpractice trial.
- Not only nurses should document everything but they should make sure their notes are easy to read. Even though a nurse may have been doing the right thing, unreadable notes open the door for a patient to question the nurse’s actions in considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Even though nurses are overwhelmed most of the time they should always take the time to verify physicians orders before carrying them out. If an order doesn’t seem right to the nurse she should always go back to the physician and verify with him if its what he really wanted for the patient. Many medical malpractice cases involving nurses are related to nurses following incorrect orders. If an order doesn’t seem right the nurse has to take action and question the physician.
- Communication with all parties involved with the patients is key to avoiding lawsuits. The nurse has to make sure that everyone is on the same page with what is going on with her patient to avoid medical error. Not only the patient’s physisicians’ but also the social worker, the assistant nurse, the radiologist and anyone involved in the care of the patient has to be on the same page.
- Continuous education: Keep up to date with latest nurse best practices and make sure you attend seminars and classes to keep continuously educated on the current standard for the nursing profession.