Nurses play an important role, which is why their medical malpractice can be so harmful

Today many are celebrating the occasion of National Nurses Day.

On days like today, we hear a lot about how registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses are indispensable parts of the healthcare team. In Texas medical malpractice litigation, though, hospitals invariably downplay the education, training, critical thinking, and independent interventions that modern nurses owe to their patients.

Most Texans don’t understand that an old legal concept called the corporate practice of medicine doctrine prohibits hospitals from employing or hiring doctors. You’d never know it based on hospital billboards and advertisements. As soon as a lawsuit is filed, though, hospitals immediately point out that they are only responsible for the negligence of their employees, mainly the nursing staff.

The hospital argues that nurses can’t make a medical diagnosis, order medication or treatment, or do basically anything without saying “Mother, may I?” to a doctor. While it’s ultimately up to a doctor to make a medical diagnosis and make orders, there’s still a long list of things that nurses can do independently to help their patients. (Deepen your understanding of the corporate practice of medicine doctrine and Texas medical malpractice cases)[].

What is the scope of independent nursing interventions, and how does it debunk misconceptions about nurses’ roles in patient care?

In fact, the Texas Board of Nursing rules and regulations describe the high standards that regulate professional nursing practice and conduct. Here are some:

  • Rule 217.11(1)(B): Implement measures to promote a safe environment for patients and others.

  • Rule 217.11(1)(D): Accurately and completely report and document nursing care rendered and contacts with other healthcare team members concerning significant events regarding the patient’s status.

  • Rule 217.11(1)(M): Institute appropriate nursing interventions that might be required to stabilize a client’s condition and/or prevent complications.

  • Rule 217.11(1)(P): Collaborate with the patient, members of the healthcare team and, when appropriate, the patient’s significant other(s) in the interest of the patient’s healthcare.

Additional responsibilities of registered nurses

The Texas Board of Nursing rules and regulations place additional specific responsibilities on registered nurses. To me, the most interesting of these is described in Rule 217.11(3).

The registered nurse shall assist in the determination of healthcare needs of patients and shall utilize a systematic approach to provide individualized, goal-directed nursing care by:

  • Performing comprehensive nursing assessments regarding the health status of the patient

  • Making nursing diagnoses that serve as the basis for the strategy of care

  • Developing a plan of care on the assessment and nursing diagnosis

  • Implementing nursing care

  • Evaluating the patient’s responses to nursing interventions

After reading the nursing obligations imposed by the Texas Board of Nursing, you probably can understand why I believe that nurses who do their job are an indispensable part of the healthcare team.

Nurses are professional healthcare providers who spend more time assessing, re-assessing, observing, and interacting with patients than physicians. That’s why it’s important for hospitals to have measures in place to verify nursing education, training, experience, and qualifications, as well as continuing education. Explore the correlation between nurse practitioners and medical malpractice in-depth by reading the article titled (Nurse practitioners: Texas law and medical malpractice)[] for comprehensive insights.

Sadly, when nurses don’t follow the standard of care, they place their patients in needless danger. This can happen when nurses don’t have adequate training and competence to take care of a particular type of patient but do so anyway. It can also happen when nurses don’t communicate changes in the patient’s clinical status to a doctor in a timely fashion, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. This sometimes means the difference between life and death. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the standard of care and its critical relevance in Texas medical malpractice throughout the article titled (What’s the standard of care and why does it matter in a Texas medical malpractice case?)[]

We are here to help

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor nursing, hospital, or physician care, then contact a top-rated skilled Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.