Doctors and nurses have a lot of responsibility when it comes to patient care. Especially when caring for the most vulnerable, medical professionals must maintain a certain standard of care. Distractions, mistakes, and mix-ups can cause serious injury or harm. Unfortunately for patients, when a medical error causes injury the injury victim may not be aware that the injury was caused by a distracted doctor or nurse.
Distracted Nurse Gives Baby Fatal Overdose
Samuel McIntosh was born prematurely, weighing only 1 pound 4 ounces. The baby was being cared for at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, requiring intravenous feeding. A nurse who was taking care of the child was to administer 5 ml of sodium chloride (salt) with dextrose. Instead of the 5 ml of sodium chloride, the baby was given 50 ml, ten times the prescribed amount. The excess salt caused the baby’s brain to swell which caused the baby’s death.
A week earlier, the nurse had taken a picture of herself and the baby while on duty and posted it on Facebook, without the consent of the parents. The nurse appeared to be asleep in the photo but denied being asleep while on duty. During an inquest, the nurse said there had been “a bit of an interruption,” and did not remember what she actually did.
The nurse was suspended after the accident but allowed to go back to work after the suspension, posting on Facebook that she had a fantastic day and “Is goin 2 treat herself 2 bottle wine!”
After a later misconduct hearing, the nurse was found guilty of misconduct and is no longer able to work as a nurse. The panel found her behavior was “fundamentally incompatible” with continuing to practice as a registered nurse.
Salt Levels in Babies
Sodium is a necessary nutrient and one of the electrolytes that allow cells to function properly. Sodium helps maintain water and fluid levels in the cells and blood volume. For adults, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and too little sodium can cause hyponatremia.
In babies, sodium levels are important to the health and well-being of the baby and the development of the baby’s brain. Too much salt is called hypernatremia. Hypernatremia is commonly caused by dehydration, usually because of diarrhea, vomiting, or high fever. Hypernatremia from consuming or absorbing too much sodium is more rare.
Signs of hypernatremia may include lethargy, restlessness, spasticity, hyperthermia, and seizures. Hypernatremia may also cause intracranial swelling, hemorrhage, and kidney damage. Hypernatremia in infants may cause brain damage.
Posting Photos of Patients Online
Patients have a right to privacy in their healthcare. Posting photos online of patients without consent, including infants and children without the consent of their parents, may be a HIPAA violation. In 2015, ProPublica investigated inappropriate social media posts by nurses. The report found dozens of cases of workers at nursing homes posting photos or videos of residents on social media, without the consent of residents.