Failure to Report a Change in a Patient’s Condition

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2014 | Medical Malpractice

Nurses provide the first line of care to patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They generally have the most contact with the patients and are in the best position to monitor a patient’s medical condition. Moreover, nurses are trained to observe, document, and report changes in the signs and symptoms of a patient’s condition.

Nurses must keep a patient’s charts and records up to date with the latest information about the patient’s medical condition. Nurses must also notify the patient’s physician of clinically significant changes in the patient’s condition. Failure to report a change in the patient’s condition to a doctor may result in liability for the nurse and a tragic outcome for the patient.

What types of changes in a patient’s condition should be reported?

It is not possible to list all of the changes to a patient’s condition that should be reported, but the following list mentions just a few of the major changes that nurses should report:

  • Adverse drug reactions;
  • Agitation;
  • Bleeding;
  • Blood glucose levels;
  • Blood pressure;
  • Body temperature or fever;
  • Bruises;
  • Changes in skin color;
  • Chest pain;
  • Cognitive changes;
  • Confusion;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Disorientation;
  • Falls;
  • Facial Droop;
  • Fatigue;
  • Heart rate;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Loss of body movement or function;
  • Muscle spasms;
  • Neurological Changes;
  • Oxygen saturation;
  • Pain level;
  • Pressure sores and ulcers;
  • Skin breakdown;
  • Slurred Speech, and
  • Weakness.

How should the change in a patient’s condition be reported?

Each situation is different and the nurse will have to use his or her judgment about the most effective way to report the changed condition. Based on the severity of the change, the nurse should report the change immediately, as dictated by hospital or nursing home reporting protocols, or according to the doctor’s instructions and orders.

In addition to being timely, the nurse’s report of a changed condition must give the doctor enough information to determine the appropriate course of treatment. The nurse may be much more familiar with the patient’s condition and baseline levels than the doctor is, so the nurse must report the change with sufficient details.

What must a patient prove to recover damages from a nurse for failing to report a change in the patient’s condition?

Under Florida law, in general, a patient must prove that a reasonably prudent nurse under the same or similar circumstances would have reported the change in condition. The injured patient must prove that:

  • The nurse had a legal duty to report the change in the patient’s condition;
  • The nurse failed to report the change in the patient’s condition;
  • The nurse’s failure to report the change in condition caused the patient’s injury; and
  • The patient has suffered damages as a result of the nurse’s conduct.

The patient will also have a legal claim against the nurse’s employer—most commonly a hospital or nursing home.

Contact a Miami Nursing Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you were injured by a nurse’s or other health care provider’s failure to report a change in your medical condition, please seek appropriate medical treatment immediately. Then please contact us for a free and confidential consultation about your case. You can contact us online or phone us at 305-376-7860 (local) or 305-376-7860 (toll-free) or to arrange your consultation. We can help you understand your options and advocate on your behalf to recover the compensation that you deserve.

Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.