Everyday nurse perform physical assessments, deliver countless medications, carry our doctor’s orders and make critical decisions that affect their patients. Every action a nurse does in the hospital setting is susceptible to error and an error may result in injury to patients or a in a lawsuit.

Risk Management

Nursing negligence is when a nurse who is fully capable of caring does not care in the way a reasonably prudent nurse would, and as a result the patient suffers unnecessarily. The key word here is reasonable. In healthcare, the nurse will be held to reasonable nursing standards of care; in other words, they will be judged against what other nurses in the same situation might have done.

Each time a claim of nursing negligence is made, the situation is reviewed to see if the nurses involved in the care could have “foreseen” or “predicted” that the patient was at risk for the incident that happened. Foreseeability is a risk management technique. It is a legal requirement that negligent cases must be judged on the facts as they were at the time of the incident.

Certain events may foreseeably lead to specific results. Here are some examples for better understanding:

  • Administering the wrong medication to a patient without following proper medication administration procedures, causing injury to the patient.
  • Failing to contact the physician or other health care provider when the patient’s condition changed and the change resulted in injury to the patient.
  • Failing to follow hospital or other facility patient care policies and procedures, resulting in injury to the patient.

A more specific example, Patient X was assessed and is at risk for fall or injury. As part of the Nursing interventions for patients with risk of falling, the nurse foresee that patient X needs extra safety precautions eg: closely monitoring, bed should be adjusted to a low position and side rails up, move him to a room close to the nurse’s station and so on.

Although there is no specific formula that applies to every patient condition, anticipation is the key to foreseeability. A nurse should have a good understanding of his patient’s illness or condition as it will allow him to foresee and anticipate what he should do. It will always boil down to the patient’s right to receive medical care that is of the highest standards.


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