Today, held responsible for their actions or lack

Today, healthcare physicians along with
registered nurses, encounter legal situations on a daily basis. They often
appear in court cases from lawsuits that have been made by individuals who
suffered injuries or when a death occurred. Even with the best intentions, errors
can be made and health allies should be held responsible for their actions or
lack of action. For this reason, nurses must be aware of current legislation
acts and the implications of these acts. Because of this, nurses need to follow
principal guidelines appropriate to their practice as well as practicing within
their scope of practice and within their code of conduct and standards. Nurses
are responsible to provide the best quality of care and do no harm. Patients
are entitled to have the best standard of care and when theses are not met, a
breach of duty occurs. In other words, breach of duty occurs when an individual
is obligated to care towards another person but fails to do so. As a result,
negligence and malpractice follows. It is essential for nurses to be
apprehensive about causing negligence or malpractice. This is because one will
be held accountable for these acts and result in losing their license,
suspension or a lawsuit.

There
is a standard of care in which nurses are expected to provide when caring for a
patient. Standard of care is the expected skill or care a healthcare
professional within the same field must have (McTeigue & Lee, 2015). Standard
of care will variety in each state, facility and health professional boards. Nurses
must conduct themselves in a way that any other nurse would do in a similar
situation. Failure to provide the standard of care can precede a legal action
to be made against individuals providing the care. According to the book Legal and Ethical Issues for Health
Professions, negligence is defined as “the failure to use care as a
prudently reasonable person would in the same situation” (McTeigue & Lee,
2015). In order for a lawsuit to come into affect, four elements of negligence
must be proven. The following elements are: duty, dereliction of duty, direct
cause and damages. Some common examples of negligence that result in lawsuits
are: failure to use proper equipment on patients, failure to monitor, failure
to document, failure to provide informed consent and medication errors.

            Malpractice
refers to the “failure of the professional to act within their codes of standards
or failure to have the necessary skill that a prudently reasonable member of
the profession would use in the same situation” (McTeigue & Lee, 2015). This
is normally seen in careers where possessing certain skills and abiding by a
certain standard of care is mandatory. A non-health professional can perform an
act of negligence. For example, a parent can be guilty of negligence if they
abandon an unwanted child on the streets. They will not be charged with
malpractice because the term refers to negligence being done by a professional.
As healthcare professionals, we have the duty to provide care to patients no
matter the situation. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Many lawsuits
are filed against many nurses for either omitting an act or committing a
wrongful act. These acts can harm patients.A
malpractice case occurs when an incident of suspected negligence or injury is
involved. The injured person (plaintiff) files a lawsuit against the person who
did the harm (defendant). The plaintiff could be a family member, power of
attorney or the patient himself or herself. The following court cases are
perfect examples of negligence and malpractice involving breach of standard of
care. In Cynthia A. Adae V. University of
Cincinnati, Case No. 2007-08228, Cynthia Adae arrived to Clinton Memorial
Hospital with complaints of back pain, fever and limited range of motion.
During her stay at the hospital, Dr. Pesante performed the usual blood tests to
rule out any infection. Mrs. Adae was discharged the next morning with
diagnosis of possible infection or thyroid problem (Crow, 2013). A few days following
that, Dr. Pesante was made aware from the laboratory that Mrs. Adae’s blood labs
were positive for a bacterial infection. According to Mrs. Adae, everyone
assigned to her care failed to advise her of those results.

            As her symptoms progressed, she was admitted to Middletown
Regional Hospital (MRH) and again was discharged not given additional
information on the blood results. As time passed, Mrs. Adae was brought back to
MRH for readmission. She had developed weakness from all her extremities, a
decline in cognitive function and renal failure (Crow, 2013). It all became
clear the true cause of her symptoms. A magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) test
showed a spinal epidural abscess. The delay in diagnosis had Mrs. Adae undergo
neurosurgery and as a result is now paralyzed. She filed a lawsuit with the University
of Cincinnati for medical malpractice.