Filing Medical Malpractice against a Nurse: What you need to know before filing against a healthcare worker and how to pursue lawsuit legally.
Doctors and nurses are just people, and so they make mistakes from time to time. Just as none of us would expect to be sued every time we made a small mistake at work, you cannot file a lawsuit against them for any old problem. However, there are certain cases that do rise to the level of serious medical malpractice, and despite what some people believe, it is not just doctors who can be sued. Nurses can be just as liable for medical malpractice as doctors or other healthcare providers, but only when the circumstances warrant it.
To help explain those circumstances, here is how you can file a lawsuit against a nurse for medical malpractice.
1. Find Out if You are Actually a Victim
The first thing you will need to do is to find out if you are actually a victim of medical malpractice or a significantly less serious incident of medical error. The vast, vast majority of nurses are extremely hardworking people who care deeply about their jobs and their patients. They are often overworked and underpaid, and so the last thing they deserve is to be sued for a minor incident that hardly affected you at all. Because the law offers protection to all workers from unjust lawsuits, in order to file against a nurse, the incident must tick these two boxes:
1. The nurse provided you with medical treatment which would be acknowledged by other nurses as being substandard.
2. The nurse’s care caused you a provable and serious illness or injury.
2. Seek Legal Representation
These two factors are arguably very subjective and so it can be hard for inexperienced people to know if their case rises to medical malpractice. Fortunately, there are experienced attorneys in every state including in South Carolina where medical malpractice cases are fairly common. Moreover, one personal injury lawyer in Bamberg who specializes in medical malpractice explained that whenever a potential client comes to see them with the intention of filing a lawsuit against a nurse, they look very carefully at the circumstances and consider whether they know of any precedent. As a medical malpractice lawsuit can totally destroy the career of a nurse, attorneys know that they will fight it tooth and nail, so if you don’t have a solid case, they are unlikely to advise you to go ahead with it.
3. Look at the Details of Your Case
To help you understand whether your case would be eligible to file a lawsuit against a nurse, let’s consider a typical example:
You have had a sore throat for the last couple of days and go to see a nurse. They ask you if you have any allergies and you tell the nurse that you are allergic to codeine. The nurse explains that you just have a bit of a cold and gives you some Tylenol 3 to help you with the sore throat. As you have never taken this medication before, you don’t think anything of it. When you take the medicine, however, it makes you feel very nauseous and you spend the night vomiting and with a high fever. This is because Tylenol 3 actually contains codeine and so the medication sets off your allergies.
4. Rule Out Medical Error
In this instance, did the nurse make a mistake? Yes. They gave you medication that you are allergic to and which caused an unpleasant reaction. Did this treatment fall below acceptable standards of care? Again, the answer here is clearly yes. However, the final question is the one which is the most important. Did the nurse’s actions lead to a severe illness or injury?
In this example, you developed a high fever and were nauseous and vomiting for one night. Once the codeine left your system the next day, there were no lasting effects. While the experience may not have been pleasant, it certainly wasn’t serious. Therefore, this case would be regarded as a medical error and the nurse would not be liable for medical malpractice.
5. Confirm Medical Malpractice
If you imagine, however, that your reaction to the codeine was far more severe, then the conclusion would be different. If the allergic reaction had caused a heart attack or lasting damage to your stomach or another part of your digestive system, you would quite likely have a strong case for medical malpractice. The nurse didn’t just make a mistake, they made a mistake that had provable and serious consequences for you, the patient.
Nurses are only human and so mistakes do occur from time to time. Before you can know whether you are eligible to sue for a nurse’s mistake, it is vital that you look at the circumstances of your incident. Speak to an experienced attorney and they will tell you if you have a legitimate case.