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!