A new report outlines the top allegations in medical malpractice lawsuits involving nurses.
Coverys is a medical malpractice insurance provider. In September it released a report that reviewed thousands of closed medical malpractice claims (“A Nurse’s Crucial Role in Patient Safety: Through the Lens of Malpractice Claims”).
The company reviewed 4,634 closed lawsuits between 2018 and 2021. It found 850 incidents – almost one in five of the lawsuits – had an allegation of medical malpractice involving nurses. While those allegations represented 18% of the lawsuits, they accounted for more than a quarter of the total financial compensation paid to the injured parties between 2018 and 2021.
Those injuries frequently were very serious. The death of a patient occurred in 37% of the medical malpractice lawsuits alleging a nurse’s error. High-severity patient injuries were involved in another 10% of the claims.
The overwhelming majority of the alleged medical errors by nurses – 65% – occurred in inpatient settings. Two-thirds of the alleged medical mistakes happened in the patient’s room.
Top Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Allegations involving Nurses
Coverys found the top allegations in the nursing medical malpractice lawsuits were:
· Patient monitoring (45%)
· Medication mistakes (18%)
· Patient falls (14%)
· Pressure injuries (10%)
Patient monitoring error claims resulted in patient deaths 49% of the time, according to the Coverys report. It explains that effective patient monitoring is especially vital in certain key periods, such as post-surgery and during transfers between hospital units.
To prevent serious patient monitoring errors, the report recommends that medical facilities maintain chain-of-command caregiver policies as well as protocols that have patient monitoring requirements.
Fatal Nurse Medication Errors
Medication errors are a potentially catastrophic medical error. Nearly four out of 10 of the medical malpractice lawsuits alleged that a drug administration error resulted in the patient’s death.
According to the Coverys report, as many as 1 million patients fall in U.S. hospitals every year. While a patient fall was the allegation in a minority of the nurse medical malpractice claims, 41% of those patient fall lawsuits involved the death of the patient.
More than a third of the patient fall injuries, including broken bones and hemorrhages, occurred in long-term or extended care facilities.
To help prevent serious patient falls, according to the report, effective communication among healthcare providers that includes fall risk assessments and medication updates is critical.
Deadly Patient Pressure Injuries
Coverys reports that patient pressure injuries are both preventable on the rise. More than half of the nurse medical malpractice lawsuits that alleged a pressure injury involved the death of the patient. Patient pressure injuries include sores and ulcers that generally result from lying in one spot for too long.
The report notes the federal government calls pressure injuries “never events,” meaning they should never happen to patients, and that 60,000 patients die each year from complications from pressure injuries.
The report identified possible causes for these never events. They include poor caregiver training, inadequate staffing levels and inadequate levels of dressings and medications that prevent pressure injuries.
Nurses are an integral member in the care of patients. When they make avoidable and serious mistakes, the results can be deadly.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a medical error, turn to a medical malpractice attorney to help determine all who are responsible and to hold them accountable.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham. Posted in Blog September 23, 2022.