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JD, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1335
Experience:  Over 11 years in practice as a litigator ... civil and criminal
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I took care of a patient ,age 66 with a diagnosis of deh and

Customer Question

I took care of a patient ,age 66 with a diagnosis of deh and weight loss. He had a history of HTN, heart disease, and had an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator Implant to regulate his heart rate if the rate dropped too low or elevated too high. Pt was admitted 12 noon, and when I came on duty at 7pm he was off the unit and returned to his room at 1920. His vital signs were stable. About 1940 he c/o his AICD shocking him. I took his vitals and called the patients primary physician and left a message with the Ans Serv. for him to call me. Thirty minutes pass,the ans. called me back to determine if the primary doc had called me. I said no. Ans serv. called Md again. At 2015 I called my night supervisor. Pt continued to c/o feeling shocks again. I took his vitals. Family is c/o negligence b/c primary doc didn't call back in reasonable time. Supervisior denies being notified when I called her. Pt died-shocks weakened his heart. Do I need a lawyer to protect me?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  JD replied 7 years ago.
Were any of the physician's orders (attending, resident, primary, etc) not followed? Were any of the admission orders not followed? Were any of your procedures (standard of care) not followed?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
All orders were followed as written by the physician. The patient was on a medical unit during this time. The family feels we were negligent in not having a cardiologist on duty, along with the attending physician not calling back until over an hour later when he gave me an order to get the house physician to see patient. The house physician came up around 10:15pm and ordered to transfer the patient to ICU.
Expert:  JD replied 7 years ago.

I do not see potential liability against you for 1) the admitting physician's orders being insufficient... 2) not staffing a cardiologist (I'm assuming this isn't your decision)... 3) the attending physician not calling back promptly. If your procedures required you to call in the house physician with or without the primary care physician's order then there would be potential exposure.


It sounds as if this defibrillator malfunctioned and the patient died as a result. Whether or not your hospital adequately responded to the situation will be a question that will be examined. However, the civil lawsuit will most likely involve the defibrillator manufacturer, the hospital, the primary physician and the house physician. Nurses are almost never sued for malpractice... they are usually used as witnesses.


As for your licensing investigation, there is little you can do at this point unless they approach you for an interview or ask for a statement. Most likely they will review the records and charts to make their initial determination. If they do initiate an action against you or if they ask to interview you, I strongly recommend you consult an attorney in Alabama who works in professional licensing law or medical malpractice. Do not rely on the physicians or hospital to protect you as their interests and yours do not necessarily match.


Your license should be safe as long as you followed all established procedures, followed all physician's orders, and exercised due care to your patient that would be at a reasonably acceptable level compared to other nurse's in your geographical area. I realize this is somewhat vague, but the law is somewhat vague here... it comes down to other professionals' opinion on the quality of care provided.


Please reply if I can help further.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
On February 11, 2010 I went to a meeting with my Nurse Manager, Chief Nursing Order, two staff RN's who took care of this same patient, Risk Management, and a lady who was recording the minutes. This patient situation was discussed around open table. My nursing notes were reviewed line by line by my Manager. She questioned why I didn;t get frequent vital signs- I told her that I obtained the patient vitals b/p, pulse, resp and temp when he complained of his Cardiac Defribrillator Shocks.I didn't have an order to get frequent vitals. She reviewed the patients Medication Record to see if I gave all of his medications and I did with the exception of his Lopressor, b/c his daughter said that particular medication would cause the patient to have a cardiac arrest ,so I didn't give it and circled it (according to hospital policy) to indicate that it was witheld. My Nurse Manager screamed and hollered at me during the entire time she scruitinized my nurses notes and my actions. She talked to me so viscious and demeaning. I sat across the table quietly and listened to her. I knew that she was making every effort to intimidate me. I just sat silently because I knew that I had carried out my responsibilities in taking care of this patient. When the meeting was over I went upstairs and began my shift. My manager called me to her office and said, "I had to do what I just did" those are the questions that an attorney would ask you. I walked out because her actions were very belittling, and unprofessional. In your professional opnion- do you think I should report this to Human Resources?
Expert:  JD replied 7 years ago.

I do. However, given the obvious posturing going on at this point, I think you need to consult an attorney first. The hospital administration seems to be looking for someone to blame. The fact that they did not immediately suspend you is a good sign, but I think you should at least consult an attorney in your area (even if you do not yet retain them) before consulting HR. Basically I want you to know who to call should something else happen.


If you have difficulty finding an attorney, try where you can search by practice area and geographical location. Start by contacting a medical malpractice attorney and try finding someone with experience in licensing hearings.


Please reply if I can help further.



JD and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
JD thank you so much you have been a big help!
Expert:  JD replied 7 years ago.

Thank you. I will leave this post open in case you need to follow up.


I wish you the very best.