Nursing professionals often find themselves in the position of having to deal with a constantly expanding range of responsibilities. From caring for patients, managing medication and treatment schedules to coordinating with other healthcare, the day-to-day life of a nurse is filled with intricate and detailed tasks.
Then there is the stress. Nursing is a notoriously high-pressure job, so much so that nurses and caregivers are constantly subjected to a great deal of stress. It takes someone with exceptional patience and fortitude to deal with this type of environment, and even the best of them are bound to falter and buckle under the pressure at some point.
In any type of high-pressure job or situation, mistakes are bound to happen. Despite their best efforts and intentions, nurses are only human, which means they are prone to errors. And when you add fatigue and frustration into the equation, there is always the possibility of committing mistakes.
Nursing care facilities typically get nursing home insurance to mitigate the consequences of these issues. These policies help pay for settlements and legal fees that may arise as a result of patient claims of negligence or injury.
But while nursing home insurance is undoubtedly important to have, it won’t prevent negative incidents from occurring in the first place. To effectively avoid lawsuits nursing home administrators and staff should exercise care and caution when dealing with patients.
Avoiding malpractice suits is an equally crucial concern. While negligence claims may result from failure‒or alleged failure‒to provide the required and expected degree of care, malpractice claims may result from violations of duty, failure to deliver the required standard of care, and failure to utilize the knowledge and expertise of other trained medical professionals.
Here are some steps nurses and caregivers can take to avoid negligence and malpractice suits from patients and their families:
- Acknowledge strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging professional and personal boundaries will reduce the risks of making mistakes that could harm or cause injury to the patient.
- Avoid taking on tasks they can’t perform safely. Nurses should only take on tasks for which they have the necessary skills and experience.
- Delegate duties prudently. Caution and prudence should be exercised when delegating duties. If something goes wrong, the delegating nurse may be held responsible.
- Base action on clear orders. Nurses should only act upon the direct orders of the patient’s primary care physician or health care provider. Even so, they should consult with the care facility manager if they doubt the accuracy or appropriateness of an order from a care provider.
- Exercise caution when administering medications. Extra care should be taken when giving medications due to the potential for dangerous errors. In particular, nurses should adhere to the “five rights” of administering medicines: “right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time”.
- Maintain good relationships with patients. Staying on the patient’s good side can be helpful for avoiding potential lawsuits. Nurses should maintain a friendly and compassionate demeanor at all times, while remaining professional in their dealings with patients.
- Resist the urge to offer personal opinions. Nurses are paid for their care and expertise, not their opinions. Sharing personal opinions on procedures, outcomes, diagnoses, or anything else related to treatment and care is not only inappropriate, but also risky from a legal standpoint.
- Understand witness forms thoroughly before signing. Nurses should understand witness forms thoroughly before signing. This also applies to any document in which they assume any responsibility for the patient.
- Stick to the facts. All documentation should include only facts and factual accounts. The information provided should also be as accurate and as timely as possible.
- Adhere to facility policies and procedures. Nurses should always conform to the facility’s established policies and procedures. Doing so is often the best protection care personnel have against possible negligence or malpractice claims.
Dealing with incidents that could result in a lawsuit
Nurses involved in a situation that could potentially lead to a lawsuit typically aren’t concerned about the legal consequences of their actions or neglect. Most will focus primarily on the safety and well-being of the patient in their care.
Of course, they will have to deal with the possibility of being subjected to a lawsuit at some point. When this happens, their best recourse is to report to their manager and fill out an incident report form. They should then get in touch with their insurance agent, who will advise them on how to deal with the incident.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.