I've worried about this for 30 years. Consequently, I've taken a handful of continuing education courses on the nurse and the law. I've boned up on charting. Had a patient who fell climbing over the sides rails of her bed during our change of shift report many years ago and broke BOTH her hips. Don't you think I didn't chart until smoke was coming off the tips of my fingers that night! Never heard anything from it. Before I was an RN I had another patient in a nursing home who got out of her bed one night, took her cane and beat the crap out of the lady in the bed next to her breaking her wrist. I was only an aide, but I charted, in quotation marks, comments that both ladies made to me. I got a call from one of the lawyers only to verify that the ladies had indeed said those things and I had not made them up. I worried that I might be going to court, but nothing ever came of it. I've only known of two nurses of the hundreds I've worked with who were involved in malpractice suits. Both were patient families suing the acute hospitals. Each of the nurses were involved directly with whatever the incidents were. They met with the hospital attorneys, had given previous depositions and still ended up having to testify in court. You could see they were emotional wrecks on the days they had to actually go to court. Bottom line was that the families were going after the hospital because that was where the money was. Lawyers will often tell you that your attitude toward patients is so important. If you end up getting sued, your attitude becomes really important. I recently took yet another course in law. The lawyer teaching the class told us that when a lawsuit is filed, usually everyone whose name is connected with caring for the patient is named on the lawsuit whether they were in the right or wrong regarding the incident in question. The reason that is done is because later on down the line they can easily remove a defendant's name from a lawsuit, but they can't add one on. So, it's just easier at the start to name everyone. Ultimately, it's about the money in the end so the one with the money is who is usually left holding the bag. Unless a nurse really did something so outrageous, it's usually the doctors or the facilities who get the final bill. There are some who recommend that nurses not even carry malpractice insurance
since some lawyers will go after these nurses in lawsuits merely because there is money to be had from the insurance company. That is a decision that each nurse would have to make since we all have assets (like bank accounts and homes) that might need protecting. Still, the emotional roller coaster is a hard blow to take.