Can A Nurse Be In Two Places At Once?

THIS NURSE WAS EXPECTED TO PROTECT A PATIENT AND RESPOND TO A CODE.

A 92-year-old woman with heart failure, pulmonary fibrosis, anemia, and other problems came to the emergency department with viral pneumonia. Once her condition stabilized, she was transferred to the cardiac care unit (CCU).

Still in the CCU 2 days later, the patient got out of bed, even though both side rails were up, the footboard was on the bed, and the nurses had warned her to stay in bed. The nurses’ notes indicated that she was confused.

The next day, reports on the patient’s mental status varied. At 8:30 a.m., her physician assessed her and didn’t find her condition serious enough to order restraints. At 12:30 and 2:00 p.m., the nurse documented that the patient thought she was at home. When the nurse checked her at 3:20 p.m., however, she was alert and oriented. Thirty minutes later, she was on the floor. Her right hip was fractured.

The patient underwent an open hip reduction and internal fixation and was discharged 10 days later. Using a walker, she was able to walk with assistance. After three follow-up examinations, the fracture had healed and the patient didn’t have pain.

Seven months after her admission to the hospital, the patient was readmitted for numerous disorders, including sepsis, renal failure, and acute pulmonary edema. She died 9 days later. Her children sued the hospital, the physician, and the nurse for negligence regarding their mother’s fall.

In court, the testimony revealed that the nurse had been assigned exclusively to this patient. However, after she had checked the patient at 3:20 p.m., a code was called on another patient. Hospital policy also required her to respond to the code, so she left her patient for 30 minutes.

A jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $555,000 in damages. Although the defendants appealed, the appeals court upheld the decision but reduced the amount to $500,000.

The lesson? Nurses are vulnerable even when they follow the rules. By adhering to the facility’s policy, this nurse was drawn into a no-win situation.

 

Credits: This article was referenced from http://www.nso.com/nursing-resources/article/25.jsp

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