Nurses are essential members of the healthcare team. Every day, in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities throughout Florida, nurses play a vital, if sometimes overlooked, role in the care of patients and residents. Most of the time, nurses’ actions promote the health and safety of the persons under their care.
Nurses Must Follow Instructions from Doctors
Nurses in most healthcare facilities work at the direction of doctors and under the supervision of a nursing supervisor or director of nursing. Nurses provide most of the regular hands-on care that patients and residents receive. Nurses are trained professionals who must be able to exercise professional judgment in caring for the persons entrusted to them. A skilled nurse must be able to read and understand a doctor’s instructions, and even sometimes question them if the nurse thinks the doctor made an error in the instructions. That’s right, if the nurse feels the doctors orders are contrary to the patient’s well being, the nurse should speak with a charge nurse. At the same time, nurses must follow doctors’ instructions and orders for the care of patients and residents. Following instructions helps to ensure that patients are receiving the proper care for their medical conditions.
Unfortunately, for various reasons, sometimes nurses do not follow a doctor’s instructions. Such conduct can jeopardize a person’s health and well-being and can even be fatal in some situations. If a nurse either intentionally or negligently fails to follow a doctor’s instructions and a patient or resident is harmed because of the nurse’s failure to follow the instructions, the nurse and the nurse’s employer (usually a hospital or nursing home) may be guilty of medical malpractice and liable to pay damages to the harmed patient or resident.
What must a patient or resident prove to hold a nurse liable for failing to follow a doctor’s instructions?
In general, under Florida law, a patient or resident must prove that the nurse’s conduct fell below the standard of care of a reasonably prudent nurse under the same or similar circumstances as those under which the patient or resident was injured. The nurse’s conduct need not be perfect in the sense that it guarantees a specific result for the patient, but the nurse’s conduct must be objectively reasonable. Failing to follow a doctor’s instructions or orders is usually not reasonable conduct.
Specifically, the injured patient or resident must prove that:
- The nurse had a legal duty to follow the doctor’s instructions;
- The nurse failed to follow the instructions;
- The nurse’s failure to follow the instructions caused the patient’s or resident’s injury; and
- The patient or resident has suffered damages as a result of the nurse’s conduct.
If the patient or resident can prove all of these elements of his or her claim, the nurse may be liable to pay damages to the patient or resident. The injured person may also have a legal claim against the nurse’s employer.
Contact a Miami Nursing Malpractice Today
If you or a loved one has been hurt because a nurse failed to follow a doctor’s instructions, please seek appropriate medical treatment immediately. Then please contact us for a free and confidential consultation about your case. You can reach us at 305-372-0123 (local) or 866-769-0123 (toll-free) or contact us online to arrange your consultation. We are prepared to use our knowledge of the law to help you in any way that we can.