Question about these sue-happy times?

  1. I have always wanted to be a L & D nurse but I am scared of the highly litigious environment in L & D these days. I hear of MD's just quitting because insurance is soo high and one of my friends works at a hospital where they lost their two OB MD's because of this. They just ship them out now and pray that they have time to do this. (Smaller community hospital) The Md's in ER fight over who has to take care of the PT that comes in PG. How does the whole lawsuit thing work? Can you really lose everything? I know you have to document and be as thorough as possible. Just looking for some input.


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    About xantha31669

    Joined: Mar '02; Posts: 115


  3. by   fergus51
    As a nurse (here anyways) I do not have to pay for my own malpractice insurance. I am covered through my RN organization up to a certain amount of cash. OB is the most litigated area of medicine, but it's not like we get sued every day.

    The most important things you can do to avoid a lawsuit are: Practice safely within your scope of practice, notify the doctor of any assessment findings that concern you and document, document, document.

    I was almost sued as a new grad on a med-surg floor in a HORRIBLE hospital. Because I had notified my charge nurse and the doctor several times about the situation and did all that I could in my power to help the client (and documented EVERYTHING), I was actually dropped from the suit.
  4. by   Momto2Boys
    Very interesting subject! I wonder how many nurses actually get sued. I am not a nurse yet, but my dreams are to work in L&D, but I am so nervous about malpractice suits
  5. by   rdhdnrs
    I have served as an expert witness on several cases, so can tell you that nurses do get sued. However, all the nurses I have represented have been dropped because of their excellent DOCUMENTATION!!! That is the key. Document everything you do for your patient. And don't practice to avoid lawsuits; practice to help your patient.
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Okay, perhaps nurses do get dropped because of excellent documentation of the good care they rendered......that cannot be over-emphasized. I would never argue it. But just ONE horrible case (in 1000s of perfect or near-perfect outcomes and patient satisfaction)...let me tell you......the depositions, the preparation for trial..... the accusations...the lack of support from management...the looks and rumors from your OWN coworkers who not even there when it happened.....not to mention the pain of seeing a what family and the patient go thru in situations gone bad----- (and this is the worst thing to me)-----is more than enough to make some good and conscientious people leave nursing forever. All this BEFORE YOU GO TO TRIAL(if you have to)!!

    I know of two EXCELLENT nurses who did just that, despite having done EVERYTHING RIGHT and DOCUMENTING IT THE RIGHT is in school to get her MBA and become an accountant....the other headed for LAW SCHOOL. (by the way, neither was actually SUED, just part of the case and have to give testimony and be grilled during this time). It can be a from which it seems you never awaken. It only takes ONE time.......and it's something to think about........the expectations are VERY high even in cases where the patient took risk after risk to endanger her own situation and people CAN AND WILL SUE YOU. It can be a hellish nightmare....
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Dec 20, '02
  7. by   vegicat
    As someone who recently sued (and settled), I can understand some of the frustration involved in the whole process. I can say that the only people who were NOT included in my lawsuit were the nurses. It was the nurse who I saw throughout my pregnancy (I only saw the DR 4 times), and she rearranged her schedule to be present during my delivery. My DR managed to be unavailable during my labour, and the attending jerk DR who showed up at the last minute is the one who served the "fast food" malpractice. If my nurse practitioner had been allowed to continue with me for the last 2 minutes I don't think I would have had a reason to sue. That said, I do have a problem with how threatening the whole process is, in that after I was injured, and throughout my lawsuit, the nurse was silent- though hospital documentation spoke volumes. One word from the nurse could have eliminated the 4 year ordeal. I understand why she didn't speak up, but am mad that there is so much at stake about telling the truth. One other note- my previous DR (recently honored as "Mother of the Year" in my hometown) flat out lied about every detail of her involvement in my substandard delivery and appalling aftercare, including denying she signed my written demand for no episiotomy in front of the nurse and subsequently removing it from her records and the hospital's records. Some Mother, eh? Her deposition was truthful in every way otherwise. And, the fill-in DR who was the main focus of our lawsuit never once had to give a depostion anyway. I did find it funny that his lawyers had a problem with the fact that I declined to include my nurse-practitioner in my lawsuit; many questions pertained to how good of friends we must have been, how often we saw each other, etc. They found it hard to believe I had nothing but respect for her treatment of me unless we were somehow acquainted outside of the Ob/Gyn office. Sorry to go on so long, but I did want to add the perspective of someone who did the suing. As a final note, my settlement was a slap in the face as it will do nothing to cover the life-long injury I'm dealing with, but I am satisfied that I did what I could to try to hold him as accountable as his insurance could be forced to do. I am against trivial suits and am dismayed that someone could have a fleeting coffee burn and make assanine millions while ordinary people like me cannot recover enough for long-term support, but I do hear from quite a few people who've been in similar situations as mine, and I tell them SUE. Nothing will change in the harmful standards, habits and practices that are now the norm unless there is an incentive. Thanks for listening, if you have gotten this far....
  8. by   vegicat
    Sorry- I failed to include my email ( for anyone who wants to contact me or read my story at
  9. by   webbiedebbie
    Even though I wasn't the nurse taking care of the mom, I had to go in a few times to give a deposition. One of the questions that was asked of me was did I notice if the two nurses were fighting with each other! I was fairly new on the unit and I had noticed that they were working fine together. I remember telling myself that I was glad I was not involved in the situation. However, this was a terrifying experience for me with all of the questions.
  10. by   Sable's mom
    I've had to give depositions twice and have one case still pending - I can say it is very disturbing to see your name on a legal complaint (even though the lawyers say that nurses are usually dropped and HAVE to be named on the ititial complaint) I came home and cried for days, was b**chy for a long time and continue to lose sleep over the situation. Yes, I am still in L&D, but at a different hospital and am VERY assertive with physicians when I think they are "blowing me off".
  11. by   RNagain
    Being a nurse and married to a plaintiff's med mal attorney , I have one more piece of information on how to cover yourself in a bad situation..... chain of command. I have seen many nurses go down for not going over the DR's head. We have a separate legal and moral duty to our patients. If we feel that the response that we got from a DR is inappropriate or dangerous to our patient, we need to take matters into our own hands and find someone who will give us appropriate orders. Believe me , saying "well this is what I was told to do" or "I told him about it but he did not do anything" doesn't absolve you of responsibility. So, as hard as it may be sometimes, you have to be willing to take a DR's wrath and go over his head. Become very familiar with your units chain-of-command procedures. Trust me, if you are ever sued, the plaintiff attorneys will know it by heart.
  12. by   Nurse_Wretched
    I am dreading the OB rotation when I go back to nursing school... It was bad enough when I became an LPN! I like to stay out of the litigation zone! I wish that they would give us another option for a clinical rotation because I want absolutely nothing to do with any of this...
  13. by   klone
    A) This is a 10-year-old thread
    B) When you're in nursing school, you're covered under your school's insurance policy
    C) As a student, they're not going to let you do anything that would get you sued
    D) You're not going to get sued as a student
    E) You're being over-dramatic, even working several years in OB myself, I was never sued