February 4, 2013
Barbara Gilbert, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE
Amputation Mishap; Negligence
Confused by a repeating dream, Joseph Benson wakes up and realizes the wrong leg was amputated. Even under the best of circumstances, mishaps such as this one do occur as a result of negligence and cause unnecessary duress to patients. This paper will discuss the difference between negligence, gross negligence, and malpractice. I will present my opinion of the article “Amputation Mishap; Negligence” from the Neighborhood newspaper. I will also discuss the importance of documentation as it relates to ethical and legal requirements, and the ethical principles that would guide my practice as a nurse in this situation. Negligence is comparable to carelessness. According to Guido (2010), negligence is “a deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use in a particular set of circumstances” (p. 92). There are four fundamental elements to a negligence claim and the rules in a tort law require each element be demonstrated for a claim to be honored in court. They are 1) legal duty to the patient, 2) breach of legal duty to the patient, 3) injury caused by the breach, and 4) damages. Every staff member involved in this case had a legal duty to the patient to provide safe and quality care, to include the amputation mishap of amputating the wrong leg. The most important question is “would a reasonable surgeon in the same situation have amputated the wrong leg in this particular set of circumstances?” The second element to consider is whether or not there was a breach of legal duty to the patient. In this case, I think it is safe to conclude there was a breach of legal duty owed. The element of foreseeability was not regarded in any form when the duty owed to the patient was breached. The third element is causation. This element simply implies the answer to the question “was the injury caused by the breach of legal...