Ever had to personally pay out on lawsuit by being the RN?

  1. Just wondering - how many have been named defendant in lawsuit in which you had to pay personally for being the RN w/bad outcome even if bad outcome was not due to bad nursing. I work L&D and am really worried about a particular case. Thanks!
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   gwk
    never in 28 years knock wood but i always carry my own malpractice ..we were taught in college that the hosp would protect us in order to protect themselves but if we truly made a harmful error they could then sue us .. NSO is cheap and gives me peace of mind
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Not yet. Hope it never happens either. Lord I pray not. No one is perfect and neither is any situation.
  5. by   fourbirds4me
    This is a concern for me also. I have been wavering on the issue of malpractice insurance because I have heard it said that while you are protected in the event of lawsuit..... you are also more likely to be sued because you have an income base for a reward. For instance a nurse with a salary of say 40,000 is in no way every gonna be able to pay a multi-million dollar reward... so go for the MD/Hospital. However if you have several a several million dollar insurance policy..... don't know... seems like a catch 22 to me.

    Anyone have any thoughts?
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Someone in another thread had a BIGGIE, ethically. It really made ME think.

    Let's just "for instance" say you DO make an error that HURTS or DAMAGES a person, permanently. It would not take much in some cases, especially in OB. What of the injured party? Do THEY NOT deserve compensation in that case--- and if you say no, why not?


    And if you say yes, how would you plan to pay out the appropriate amount, even if it is only several thousand dollars? Mortgage or lose the house, the car, your possessions, and have all future earnings garnished to pay for it?

    What about legal defense costs? If it is NOT expedient and risk-wise, prudent, for the hospital to stand behind you, they WON'T, trust me. You will dangle in the wind like so much laundry to dry. I think it's plain foolishness NOT to carry malpractice insurance, and perhaps, even unethical, in the light of the scenario I just mentioned. Unless you plan an error-free, perfect nursing practice, It's something to think about. :uhoh21:
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Apr 9, '04
  7. by   all4babies
    I've had the same thoughts as you guys and heard the same things. Then I went to a seminar on legal issues in ob and ob charting - of course got scared silly after hearing all the horror stories. Anyway - the speaker's comment (she was a nurse and lawyer) was that if someone is going to sue, they are going to sue everyone and not even look to see if a particular defendant has insurance or not. She also said that they even list some defendants as Jane Doe "A", Jane Doe "B" etc, for those to be specifically named later, just in case they miss someone the first go round or if someone else's name comes out in the questioning phase.

    When I was a newer nurse (still consider myself new w/only 2 1/2yrs exp) I didn't have a great preceptor and looking back on it now, my charting really was bad. I'm not trying to put all blame on preceptor, but do think it had something to do with my poor charting at the time. Since then I've learned better. Of course, we had a bad outcome on one case right after my preceptorship ended so that's where I'm going w/all this. It wasn't anyone's fault, a cord accident.
  8. by   BabyRN2Be
    I'd buy the malpractice insurance. Really. It's not much for the peace of mind. I'd probably be awake nights if I didn't have it.
  9. by   PegRNBSN
    I took care of a patient once whose husband was an attorney for a firm specializing in medical malpractice especially OB. His wife was an RN and he would not let her buy malpractice insurance. He said his firm always found out if the RNs had their own insurance and sued if they did. He said juries did not look favorably on suing RNs and they rarely did so.
  10. by   Erin RN
    I don't think that individual nurses get sued too often but it does happen...I recently reviewed a med record for a defense firm..the facility was being sued for several things but an nurse was being sued for giving a prn medication for the wrong reason (Many times I might add)..ALL nurses should and do (I would assume) know what this medication is for..Unfortunately this med is also known to bottom out the B/P...there was an accident related to hypotension and the pt died...the facility is not behind the nurse on this one..the nurse has a responsibility to know what a medication is for and give it appropriately..resulted in termination, law suit and action against the license..I asked if the particular nurse had any sort of insurance...No..Life is probably looking pretty bad about now..when I was clinically active I always had it..if you ever go out of your scope or don't follow protocol the facility is not required to back you. I have noticed that the facility is always named as a co defendent (deep pockets) but many will throw you to the wolves if it was the individuals negligence.
  11. by   mother/babyRN
    Sometimes lawsuits against doctors are dismissed or cancelled if the patient liked the nurse. I have seen that happen time and time again...And, I have malpractice insurance as well, with several attorneys telling us that we SHOULD have insurance. Interesting comment about the OB lawyer who thought they shouldn't......I doubt the hospital would, in most cases, look out for the nurse...THAT has been my experience..But no, thank goodness, so far I have not been involved in a problem(to this point...Hope I haven't jinxed myself)
  12. by   fergus51
    I work in unionized environments only. One of the benefits is that malpractice insurance is usually built in, and legal expenses are covered up to a certain amount. The only malpractice insurance I could buy would be to cover me when I am off the job and I don't think that's too important.
  13. by   cannoli
    Quote from Erin RN
    I don't think that individual nurses get sued too often but it does happen...I recently reviewed a med record for a defense firm..the facility was being sued for several things but an nurse was being sued for giving a prn medication for the wrong reason (Many times I might add)..ALL nurses should and do (I would assume) know what this medication is for..Unfortunately this med is also known to bottom out the B/P...there was an accident related to hypotension and the pt died...the facility is not behind the nurse on this one..the nurse has a responsibility to know what a medication is for and give it appropriately..resulted in termination, law suit and action against the license..I asked if the particular nurse had any sort of insurance...No..Life is probably looking pretty bad about now..when I was clinically active I always had it..if you ever go out of your scope or don't follow protocol the facility is not required to back you. I have noticed that the facility is always named as a co defendent (deep pockets) but many will throw you to the wolves if it was the individuals negligence.
    Just for education purposes, what med are you talking about, and what was it given for or not given properly for?
  14. by   Erin RN
    Nitro..given PO (mistake number one) times 3 on day one, times 2 on day two and times 3 on day three..why?? for lower abdominal pain?? results.."no relief" now isn't that suprising? Actually result is BP bottomed out, there was a fall and then there was a death..unfortunately indefensible. The drop in BP could have occurred anyways but we don't know that and since the med causes low BP AND it was not given correctly nor for the correct reason, this nurse is toast..

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