What if WE sued bad hospitals?

  1. Should nurses be able to sue hospitals for poor quality of care they are forced to give their patients due to understaffing, lack of supplies, etc.? in other words, management issues?
    Last edit by Sleepyeyes on Sep 14, '02
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   sjoe
    Nope. To have a successful lawsuit, you must be able to prove a harm/ financial loss (for negligence, for example, you'd have to prove there was a duty to perform AND a failure to perform that duty that directly causes the harm/financial loss to the plaintiff).

    Since nurses are getting paid, not undergoing a financial loss, THEY get to be sued by patients when things go wrong. Now if the nurse is successfully sued by the patient for negligence, let's say, (thereby suffering a financial loss) that nurse could turn around and sue the facility and attempt to prove that the things such as you cite were the direct cause of the loss to the patient AND were beyond the control of the nurse. Might win, might lose.

    Which is another reason why nurses working in substandard environments who are not documenting their official and written attempts to raise these standards are putting their licenses and their finances at risk. They are not able to prove that they are doing everything in their control to provide a high standard of patient care. They are just another part of the "poor quality of care" to which you refer, in the eyes of the court.
    Last edit by sjoe on Sep 14, '02
  4. by   askater11
    I am so scared being a nurse. I feel like everything always lies on the nurses....no matter what SITUATION we're in. (even outrageously short staffing)

    I've written letters to administrator's...and saved them...but I don't think that's enough to protect myself. In the letters I explained the situation we're are in and some potential options to solve the sub-standard care due to lack of staff. (My first letter I wrote 4-5 years ago)

    What scares me also...at our facility if written up we can't transfer to another unit for 6 months. Getting written up in such bad situations is very easy. Fortunately (knock on wood), the 7 years I've been an R.N. I've never been written up.

    What can we do to protect ourselves?
  5. by   Sleepyeyes
    That's exactly why i posed this question:
    what about the pain and suffering that WE go through trying to "make do" and "do the best we can" and all that? What about the cost of all this psychic distress?
  6. by   maizey
    Yes, and why are so many nurses on antidepressant and antianxiety mediations? Is it job related? There is a LOT of stress in working short staffed. There should be something that we can do about it. Maybe we really need to look into this. Just think many years ago people thought sexual harrassment suits would never work against an employer but they have. People that choose to smoke are suing tobacco companies for their illnesses. Why couldn't we sue a hospital because they constantly made us work short staffed and created this undoubtable state of anxiety and then depression when things went wrong.
  7. by   ANnot4me
    I really like this line of thinking.....
  8. by   shay
    Good Lord, my ultimate fantasy............................:chuckle. I doubt we could get away with it, though. Sjoe has some valid points.

    Oh well. Back to the drawing board.
  9. by   Cascadians
    If it gets too bad at a particular place, one can "sue" with one's feet, giving 2 weeks' notice and heading toward better pastures (hopefully).

    We worked at a hospital where they told us outright on our unit that their policy was to trash anybody thinking of moving to another unit so the employee wouldn't be able to switch. Charming, eh?

    We found a good place to work. Not perfect, involves sacrifices on our part, but at least the focus is nursing and excellent patient care. Management is under pressure by the bean counters but does listen and work quickly to implement fair solutions. That feels like a miracle.

    The focus on patient care makes all the sacrifices worth it to us.

    Course we can't work at this nice place all the time or we'd go under financially ... gotta juggle ... but to keep our sanity we have to work SOMEWHERE that puts nursing standards first.
  10. by   NMAguiar
    GREAT ... storm clouds of litigation begin to shadow an otherwise pure profession.

    Let's keep to the high road.
  11. by   sjoe
    PS to my earlier post:

    BUT, for those of you who think I am mistaken, arranage an initial consultation with a labor attorney and learn what he/she has to say. Shouldn't cost you more than $50. Call your local bar association for a referral. If you are told anything substantially different from what I wrote, I'd like to hear about it, having worked as a paralegal some years ago.
  12. by   Sleepyeyes
    Originally posted by NMAguiar
    GREAT ... storm clouds of litigation begin to shadow an otherwise pure profession.

    Let's keep to the high road.
    *sigh* i was just trying to brainstorm some way to enforce a safer level of care for the patients.

    I often feel that nurses are really stuck in the middle, and basically are caught in a lie about the kind of care we know we should give as opposed to what is actually being done.

    The stress and the strain of trying to resolve this conflict are sheer he!! for a lot of nurses.

    Essentially, in my opinion, nursing has only been kept "pure" because we have no real voice. So are we "pure" or "silenced"?
  13. by   maizey
    Maybe I've missed something here but in what way is nursing pure. I think sleepyeyes is right we are silenced. As for the giving two weeks notice. Is that what we should have to do for decent working conditions? That's kinda what those being sexually harrassed were told in the beginning, "go find another job". But, is that right?
  14. by   sjoe
    You don't have to give no stinkin' two weeks' notice. That stuff went out with "loyalty," if you can remember that far back. They don't give YOU two weeks' notice, they just terminate you when they feel like it (and no, that hasn't happened to me. Yet.)

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