The Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary defines negligence as failure to give somebody or something enough care or attention.  Applying this definition of negligence to Nursing Practice, one would be correct to say that failure of a Nurse to give enough care or attention to his/her patient is an act of negligence.  Any act of negligence by a Nurse can lead to a job loss for the Nurse, imprisonment or forfeiture of the right to practice as a Nurse.

Lest we forget; what are the common acts of negligence for which a Nurse can be sanctioned?  Let us consider five of them:

1. A Patient who falls from bed:  A Nurse can be sued and held liable if a patient under her care falls out of bed and sustains injury.  This may likely occur with patients that are under sedation, unconscious patients, blind patients, patient who have not fully recovered from electroplexy, patients who are dizzy and geriatric patients.  It’s the duty of the Nurse to ensure that this group of patients do not fall from their bed and sustain injury.

2. Administering wrong drugs, wrong dosage and injections at wrong site:  This is the worst form of negligence by a Nurse.  By virtue of her training she is supposed to know that she is expected to check every drug dosage and identify the particular patient before administering the drugs.  Injections are supposed to be administered at the right sites.  Where a Nurse fail to follow these standard procedure and this result in harm or death of a patient, the Nurse will be held liable for negligence and be sanctioned by a law court.

3. Failure to notify a Physician:  If a patient who is on admission in a psychiatric hospital, develops severe diarrhea and informed the Nurse on duty, and the Nurse fails to immediately inform the physician, and the patient’s condition deteriorates before the physician is informed; resulting in the patient’s death, the Nurse on duty will be held for act of negligence.

4. It is the duty of a Nurse to take care of a patient’s property under her care.  Any loss or damage to a patient’s property in the ward is an act of negligence on the part of the Nurse.

5. Another form of negligence is when a Nurse fails to exercise reasonable judgment in the course of implementing a physician’s prescription.  For example, a Nurse who fails to stop administering a drug when it is clear that the drug is affecting the patient is liable for negligence.  Nurses are expected to use their skill of reasonable judgment in carrying out a physician’s order.

There are other forms of negligence that will be touched in subsequent editions of 

this magazine.

Nurses must know that the Nursing profession has no room for mistakes.  

Nurse must be committed to their duties.  People are gradually becoming more 

conscious of their fundamental rights and also their rights to litigation.