How often do nurses get sued???

  1. Hello.

    This just crossed my mind....with all the talk of C.Y.A. and documentation, documentation, documentation......how often is is that nurses actually get sued?

    Or is it that doctors mostly get sued and that's why they have so much more expense as far as malpractice insurance?
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   live4today
    Not sure about that one, but I've never been sued and hate it for the person or persons who think they've got more to gain by suing poor ol' me for any nursing crap they drum up. :chuckle
  4. by   oramar
    Not that often actually but it does happen and it is most likely getting a little more often. My understanding is that nowadays lawyers throw a very wide net just to see who and how much they can bring in. Someone will probably give you a site you can go to and look it all up but I don't know any off hand.
  5. by   Tweety
    The incidences of nurses being sued or at least having to give a deposition and defending their actions is increasing here in Florida.

    I've never heard of a nurse getting sued here where they weren't also suing the hospital and the doctor, and others. Our hospital gets sued all the time. Doesn't loose many cases though, but people sure do try. What helps us is the nurses maticulous documentation.
  6. by   Genista
  7. by   James Huffman
    How often?

    Almost never. The cost of malpractice premiums tell us that. Here are some thoughts:

    http://www.networkfornurses.com/how_...r_malpract.htm

    Jim Huffman, RN

    www.NetworkforNurses.com
  8. by   SteelTownRN
    I wrok as an RN expert as a single individual, and most of the time the suit is directed at the hospital, because they have more $$ to go after. However, all nurses should be aware that they should practice within the guidelines of their institutional policies, or the hospital can refuse to cover them in the event of a suit. For this reason, it is an excellent reason to have your own malpractice insurance policy. Never count on the employer to automatically cover you. (You insure everything else of value in your life...house, car, boat, etc...why should your career/license not have some insurance as well?) Malpractice insurance for nurswes is usually around $100 a year, and it is something that you should not be without. Another reason to have your own insurance is that the hospital's legal representation is primarily out to protect the hospital, and may or may not have the best interest of your license/career in mind. It is not uncommon for a nurse who is party to a suit against a hospital to also employ their own attorney, in addition to the attorney(s) employed by the hospital. That attorney is looking out for the nurse 100% and can be paid for through your insurance policy.

    I have been in depositions and asked questions by attorneys representing the hospital, as well as attorneys representing the nurse and/or MD. It is not uncommon to obtain your own counsel.

    With the world that we are living in being so lawsuit-happy, I would expect to see more nurses being sued individually. But bear in mind that any person can take a complaint to an attorney and seek to file a lawsuit. However, with malpractice, the attorney should first run the facts of the case (and some charts/documentation) by an expert witness to see if there have been any breaches in the standard of care (what would a resonably prudent nurse hahve done in the same situation?) Sometimes, I have to conclude that a.)the nurses were not wrong in the situation and there is no grounds for a suit, or b.) something definitely went wrong, but there is no conclusive evidence in the chart/documentation, and filing a lawsuit is a longshot.

    Hope that this information helps! Happy 4th!
    SteeltownRN
  9. by   Shiva_Las_Vegas
    Thank you to everyone for the replies and links.

    It seems like there might be a little debate as far as whether or not to have malpractice insurance......

    On one side, GET malpractice insurance because you should look out for yourself and not rely on the hospitals insurance.

    On the other side, DON'T get malpractice insurance because that just makes you a juicy target for the lawyers. (referring to the link from Jim Huffman.....)

    Interesting.
  10. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    How about get malpractice insurance to protect your assets, but keep the fact that you kave the ins a secret, to make you less of a target for anyone looking to sue.
  11. by   Shiva_Las_Vegas
    Yep. That makes sense.......

    Thanks for the reply.
  12. by   nimbex
    I know this is a few days old but from personal experience, as soon as you are deposed.... legally swear in, with lawyers from BOTH sides, the first question asked is "do you have personal malpractice insurance", you can't lie or hide it.

    I've been named in a suit. As long as you follow hospital policy, the hospital WILL protect you, mine did wonderfully. If you violate policy and then are named, the hospital has no obligation to defend you. If you live on the edge and take risks, than GET insurance, god knows you'll need it.

    From experience, although named as primary defendent, the lawyer and plantiff will not go after your measly assetts, they want the millions awarded by jurys, or enough pressure for the hospital, with vast insurance and resources to settle and pay out.

    My hospital lawyer said, labor and delivery, peds, then ICU is the most often sued, L&D, is sued quite frequently. Doesn't mean you should avoid it, just follow policy and document thoroughly.

    if you want more info on the process fell free to pm me
  13. by   Shiva_Las_Vegas
    nimbex,

    Thanks for the reply.....

    I am a "pre-nursing" student right now....waiting to hear back from the college on when I can actually start the nursing classes. The idea of getting sued is kind of scary. I guess it's just one of those things......do your job, follow the rules, document everything you do and try not to worry about it too much.....
  14. by   Hardknox
    Originally posted by Shiva_Las_Vegas
    nimbex,

    Thanks for the reply.....

    I am a "pre-nursing" student right now....waiting to hear back from the college on when I can actually start the nursing classes. The idea of getting sued is kind of scary. I guess it's just one of those things......do your job, follow the rules, document everything you do and try not to worry about it too much.....

    ....and you can still get sued. If you are planning to work in Mass. they have a $20,000 charitible cap on suing the hospital. Yep, that's all you can get from them. So lawyers go after the nurses and the doctors. My friend was sued: the hospital didn't notify their insurance carrier that carried the umbrella pollicy that bridged the $3 mill the union had bargained for and a higher sum the jury found for ($3 mill is chickenfeed for juries to award.) Jury found for $10 million and that is without the accrued interest because when they award the amount it is also retroactive interest added from the day the suit was filed!! What a mess. BTW, my friend didn't carry malpractice inurance.

    In Mass. it's wise to carry your own insurance. In fact it's wise NOT to be a nurse.

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