MALPRACTICE OR NOT?
A 28 year-old man was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He spent 15 days in ICU for trauma related medical problems. He was transferred to a Medical-Surgical unit in stable condition. He had a tracheostomy tube and had intermittent difficulty choking on his own mucus. During one of these choking episodes he could not speak, so he reached for his nursing call button to summon help. The call button was not in his reach. He fell out of bed trying to find his call button, broke his hip and sustained severe head trauma. His family filed a malpractice suit against the hospital and the nurses.
Discuss the specifics of this case in relation to the six elements needed to prove malpractice.
This case is definitely a malpractice case, looking at the six elements of practice one will agree with me that this is an act of negligence by a professional person which is sometimes referred as professional negligence or malpractice. In order to establish a malpractice case, the six elements of medical malpractice which must be satisfied (Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, foreseeability, injury, Damages).
A duty is owed to the patient, the question is did the nurse follow their hospital policies and procedures or even a guideline for their practice. In this case no, the nurse did not follow procedure; call button must be with reach to a patient. Breach of duty – the standard of care expected in this situation was not observed by the nurse. The duty owed to patient was breached by his nurse. For a patient who intermittently experiences mucus plugs which is accumulation of mucus in your airways, because patient cannot cough out secretions, is a very high risk patient. Mucus plug is most common cause of atelectasis and air way obstruction in patient with respiratory issues. This patient can experience desaturation of oxygen at any time or lung collapse, he should be place on continuous pulse oximeter with alarm. Foreseeability – a link must exist...
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