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Doctors aren't the only ones with your life in their hands

Many would say that the unsung heroes in the medical field are nurses. They tend to spend the most time with their patients. If you spend any significant amount of time in a hospital, you could get to know fairly well the nurses who care for you.

Nurses monitor your condition, administer your medications and otherwise tend to your needs most often. Most nurses take their responsibilities seriously and diligently perform their duties. Even so, because they are human, the potential for mistakes still exists. Nurses work long hours and may have numerous patients to keep track of during their shifts. These factors provide the potential for the occurrence of some common nursing mistakes.

Medication mistakes

This common and dangerous mistake happens more often than anyone would like to admit. You may receive the wrong medication, the wrong dosage of a medication or another patient's medication. This error happens most often for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Failure to verify patient to medication
  • Failure to verify weight and height of patient
  • Failure to verify allergies and other reactions
  • Failure to keep medication information updated
  • Failure to emphasize critical diagnoses or conditions

In some cases, nurses may fail to properly read a doctor's orders regarding medications. Between administering medications to a patient, a doctor could change the orders. Failing to check for changes could prove harmful to the patient.

Infections

Approximately 99,000 people die each year in hospitals due to infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nurses may spread infections by making the following errors:

  • Failure to take proper precautions
  • Failure to properly clean or disinfect
  • Failure to adhere to aseptic techniques
  • Failure to follow infection prevention strategies

Most hospitals have protocols regarding containing infections and preventing their spread. Some infections that may not cause substantial harm or death to a healthy individual could prove devastating to a hospitalized patient.

Patient falls

Patients could fall for any number of reasons. Most patients fall when alone. If nurses fail to check on their patients routinely, a patient could suffer serious harm. In addition, nurses need to let their patients know to contact them if they need assistance. The less often a patient has to get out of bed unattended, the better the chance a fall won't occur. Patients with a high risk for falls may need more attention and monitoring.

Can nurses be sued for medical malpractice?

You may be like most Indiana residents who associate medical malpractice with doctors and hospitals. However, you may also file such claims against nurses if you suffer serious injury or lose a loved one due to their errors. Nurses must also meet certain standards of care, and if they don't, their patients could suffer. Not only could you receive compensation for nursing mistakes, but you could hold the nurse or nurses accountable and prevent another patient from suffering as well.

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