The nursing practice operates under specific guidelines and standards of care to ensure positive patient outcomes, safety, and quality care. At times, nurses and other healthcare providers may make errors in the process of executing their duties, and the affected patient can sue for negligence. In Florida, nurses operate under the Florida Practice Act and other associated rules. In the case scenario presented, SK suffered due to negligence caused by nurse understaffing at the facility. The assigned RN could not assess the patient as often as required due to increased workload. Consequently, the patient sustained irreparable brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. This post discusses the standards of care that the parties involved in the case scenario will be held to in a court of law.
Standards of Care
The parties involved in this case will be held to two provisions under the standards of care. The first aspect is the failure of the administration to allocate the necessary resources for enough nursing workforce. The second one will involve negligence.
According to the standards of care and the Florida Nurse Practice Act, health care facilities should provide competent and sufficient care to patients. Specifically, the administration bears the responsibility of planning and budgeting to ensure that the appropriate resources are allocated properly to avail adequate care to patients (Nickitas, Middaugh, & Aries, 2014). Health care facilities are expected to employ competent human resources personnel who create work schedules for every organization level to have enough workers at any one given time.
Specifically, the nursing department should ensure that the staffing levels meet the stipulated number of nurses for the provision of adequate, timely, and quality care to patients. However, from the case scenario, it is clear that the administration of the involved health care facility failed to meet these provisions. The hospital’s staffing standards stated that it should have five registered nurses and two licensed practical nurses. However, only three registered nurses were on duty at the time the incident involving SK occurred.
Additionally, from the available records, it showed that the hospital failed to meet its staffing standards for 51 out of 59 days before the occurrence of the incident under study. Therefore, the hospital will be liable to the negligence that resulted in SK’s deterioration due to lack of adequate nurse staffing. Hospitals are liable for negligence cases caused by their nursing staff. Therefore, in this case, the hospital will be held liable for not having enough nursing staff according to its standards, and the damage caused by the nurse on duty on the day that the incidence occurred.
According to Jacoby and Scruth (2017), negligence in nursing is defined as “doing something or failing to do something that a prudent, careful, and reasonable nurse would do or not do in the same situation” (p. 183). In this case, the assigned RN did not assess SK as required, which explains why her oxygen levels were not monitored effectively. Consequently, the patient suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.
Under the tort law, the nurse is liable for negligence. The RN failed to meet the accepted standards of care when dealing with SK. While the unfortunate events were caused by understaffing, the RN acted negligently, the cause notwithstanding. Therefore, in a court of law, negligence will be proved in four stages. First, it will be argued that the RN owed duty to SK, the patient (Westrick, 2013). In this case, the nurse was expected to assess the patient often and monitor her oxygen levels.
The second step will involve proving a violation of duty. In this case scenario, the nurse violated his or her duty by failing to monitor the patient as required. In the third step, it will be proved that the violation of duty caused direct harm to the patient. From the case, it is clear that the nurse’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of oxygen deprivation, which caused brain damage to the patient.
Finally, for a negligence case to be proved, damage must occur. In this case, the patient suffered permanent brain damage, and thus the nurse is liable for negligence. Therefore, through the four steps outlined above, negligence will be established. The nurse will be held to account for failing to act as stipulated in the standards of care.
Nurses operate under stipulated guidelines that are collectively known as the standards of care. Similarly, hospitals are also required to maintain certain staffing standards to ensure that patient receive adequate, timely, and quality care. In the case scenario under discussion, the hospital will be held liable for not having enough nurses based on its standards and the negligence that occurred due to the nurse’s actions.
Additionally, the RN will be held liable for negligence for failing to assess the patient as required and monitor her oxygen levels. Ultimately, a case of negligence against the hospital and the nurse will be proved by showing how the RN’s actions led to the patient’s brain damage.
Jacoby, S. R., & Scruth, E. A. (2017). Negligence and the nurse. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 31(4), 183-185. Web.
Nickitas, D. M., Middaugh, D. J., & Aries, N. (2014). Policy and politics for nurses and other health professionals (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Westrick, S. J. (2013). Essentials of nursing law and ethics (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.