Amputation Mishap

1398 Words Apr 5th, 2013 6 Pages
Amputation Mishap

The Neighborhood News reports of a medical error at The Neighborhood Hospital. The report states a 62 year-old male patient underwent surgery to have his leg amputated only to discover the wrong leg was amputated during surgery. The newspaper article states the mishap is negligence. In the following paragraphs, negligence, gross negligence, and malpractice are discussed and determine if the newspaper’s statement of negligence is correct. Ethical principles in nursing and nursing documentation regarding such issues are also discussed.
Negligence and malpractice fall under the tort laws definition. According to Guido (2010), “Torts are civil wrongs, not based on contracts, but on personal transgressions in that the
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6. Damages.
The amputated leg cannot be replaced; therefore the patient is entitled to compensatory damages regarding pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, emotional damages as well as financial loss and medical expenses.
In this scenario, all six elements to prove malpractice are present. The negligence is by licensed personnel in a hospital setting. Using the definitions and criteria above, the newspaper incorrectly defines the mishap as negligence. The correct term to use in this case is professional negligence or malpractice. Nursing documentation should be reflective of the patient’s hospital stay. This includes identifying and addressing patient needs, assessments, problems, limitations, and responses to nursing interventions. According to Guido (2010), “Documentation must show continuity of care, interventions that were implemented, and patient responses to the therapies implemented. Nurses’ notes are to be concise, clear, timely, and complete” (p. 197). Guido (2010) lists the following guidelines for nurses to use to ensure documentation is complete and accurate (p. 197-209):
1. Make an entry for every observation. If documentation is absent, it can be assumed an observation did not take place.
2. Follow-up as needed.
Evaluation and observations require follow up to ensure appropriate patient responses and optimal outcomes.
3. Read nurses notes prior to giving care.
Reading nurses notes enable