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When Is A Nurse Responsible For Negligent Care?

When going in for medical treatment, patients often see a number of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and lab techs. In some cases, the patient is not even aware of the title of the person providing care, whether it was a doctor, physician’s assistant (PA), or other employee. The title and job duties of the individual may have an impact on recovering compensation after a medical malpractice claim. 

Duties and Limitations of a Nurse

Nursing includes a number of medical professional positions, and some nurses have additional training, testing, and an increased scope of practice. These include: 

One of the ways these types of nurses differ in the level of supervision they require or oversight by doctors. A nurse practitioner (NP) generally has more authority than other types of nurses and does not need to be supervised by a doctor.  

Medical Errors Caused by a Nurse

When a nurse fails to follow proper procedures, fails to monitor a patient, goes outside of their authority, or does not report problems to supervisors, it can cause injury or harm to patients. 

In one case, a number of patients were found to be infected with a bacteria that does not commonly show up in the bloodstream. After an investigation, a number of syringes were found to be filled with tap water. A nurse was suspected of taking or using opioid drugs from the syringes and replacing the liquid with tap water. Criminal charges were eventually filed against the nurse based on stealing pills and medication from patients and the hospital over a 5-month period. 

Liability After Nursing Negligence

If a nurse is negligent which causes injury to a patient, the patient may have a claim for damages. Negligence for a nurse’s action may fall on the nurse individual, or extend to supervisors or the employer. If a nurse is required to be supervised by an advanced nurse or doctor, the doctor or nurse may also be liable for injuries based on negligent supervision. 

Nurses may also be held liable for negligence when problems occur when the nurse delegates a task to someone else. If a nurse failed to act in a manner that a “reasonably prudent” nurse would, or if a failure to supervise or monitor delegated activity occurred, the nurse may be found liable.

Most nurses are employees of a hospital, doctor’s office, clinic, or other employer. Under vicarious liability, an employer is generally liable for the negligence of the employee. If an employee is acting within the scope of their employment and causes injury or harm to another, the employer may be liable for damages. 

Nursing Negligence and Malpractice Claims 

Patients rely on the training and experience of the medical professionals providing care, including nurses, PAs, and doctors. When a healthcare professional fails to follow the standards of care and it causes injury or harm to the patient, they should be held responsible for their actions. If you were injured because of a medical mistake, talk to the experienced team at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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