Nursing Malpractice: The Problem of Low-Quality Health Care

Nursing malpractice is a problem that accounts for low-quality health care. Nurses have to familiarize themselves with the laws and doctrines and use them in everyday practice. This essay will analyze two nursing malpractice cases according to the elements of negligence. These elements include duty, breach of duty, foreseeability, causation, injury, and damage (Croke, 2006). In both cases, nurses did not inform the physician about the patients’ complaints that resulted in their afflictions.

The first case involved the patient, Donald Floyd, with chest pain who sought help from Willacy Country Hospital. Nurse Lunsford, who was on her duty, was aware of the patient’s condition and possible complications with cardiac involvement, but she did not inform the physician (Croke, 2006). Instead, she sent Floyd to Valley Baptist Hospital that was far away from them. The reason for this was that Mr. Floyd did not have a physician in the Willacy Country Hospital, and it was not a life-or-death situation. On his way to the hospital, Floyd died because of cardiac arrest. The reason for this malpractice suit was the nurse’s failure to assess the patient’s condition accurately, report on it, and provide primary nursing actions such as checking a patient’s heart performance. When she entered the waiting room, she saw Floyd lying on a table struggling from numbness. Lunsford was able to foresee the complications as she found that the patient did not eat or do anything that could result in his condition. Moreover, she asked Floyd’s friend, who was accompanying him, whether she knew about cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The nurse’s negligence led to the demise of the patient that could have been prevented. The nurse’s license was withdrawn for one year.

The primary problem that led to the malpractice in the second case was the nurse’s ignorance of the patient’s concern about surgery. Before the surgery, the patient, Susan Muskopf, questioned if her right hand had to be operated (Croke, 2006). The nurse took the notes and reviewed Muskopf’s medical documents and the physician’s records. She got the documents signed by the patients that stated that the operation had to be performed on the left hand. Eventually, Muskopf filed a lawsuit against the physician, the hospital, and the county seeking compensation for the damages to her health. As the patient-nurse relationship was established as soon as the patient approached the nurse, the later had a duty to ensure that the surgical site was determined correctly and inform the physician. The nurse could also foresee the potential complications associated with the wrong operation site. If the nurse told the physician about the concern, the operation would be performed in the right place, and no damage would be done. As a result of the court trial, the complaint against the hospital was reinstated.

To conclude, nursing malpractice occurs when nurses cannot perform their duties by following standards of their occupation and providing quality health care. The negligent acts described in this essay include failing to assess the condition of the patient accurately and report the concerns to the physician. The liability elements were used to review each act of negligence. To avoid such cases, nurses must be familiar with the lawsuits and be careful when monitoring the condition of the sick. Hospitals and patients, in turn, must report on the cases of malpractice to avoid any instances in the future.


Croke, E. (2006). Nursing malpractice: Determining liability elements for negligent acts. Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting, 17(3), 3.