What Is Negligence in Nursing?

The field of nursing is a time-honored position that requires not only educational training, but also compassion, dedication and loyalty to patients and workplace, which means adhering to all approved standards of care. However, there are times when a nurse may be accused of negligence. Understanding how negligence is defined in nursing helps you understand the expected roles and standards, as well as what may be construed as negligence.

  1. Definition

    • The basic and legal definition of negligence means breach of duty or injury. Standards of care in nursing generally mean those practices that "a reasonably prudent nurses would use." So a good nurse knows and understands ethics in the medical field and strives to provide excellent quality of care in order to avoid negligence. However, mistakes, which will happen, do not necessarily mean negligence has occurred.

    Breach of Duty

    • Examples of breach of duty, which may be considered negligent under certain circumstances may include "doing something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do, under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence. It is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care," according to Critical Care Nurse, a journal for high acuity, progressive and critical care.

    Injury

    • For an injury to be considered caused by negligence, records must show that the nurse failed to perform her duties with the patient in question. In such cases, the failure of duty must then be proven as directly related to the injury of the patient. For example, if a nurse fails to give medications as directed then the patient's condition worsens or he dies, the nurse may be found negligent.

    Performance Failures

    • Inadequate nursing skills or attention to tasks may result in a suit of negligence against a nurse who chronically fails to provide approved standards of care. Such incidents include, but are not limited to, habitual medication errors, failure to follow protocol or orders and improper use of equipment.

    Avoiding Claims of Negligence

    • A good nurse is well-informed regarding health and safety laws, as well as board regulations and customs of nursing. He is diligent in preventing injuries and falls, knowing his duties and is familiar with medications and dosage ranges for all patients under his care. A good nurse will avoids negligence when she practices good communication with patients and physicians and works within legal guidelines.

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