Who’s Responsible for Harm to This Patient? You Decide
You are a surgical nurse at Memorial Hospital. At 4 pm, you receive a patient from the recovery room who has had a total hip replacement. You note that the hip dressings are saturated with blood but are aware that total hip replacements frequently have some postoperative oozing from the wound. There is an order on the chart to reinforce the dressing as needed, and you do so. When you next check the dressing at 6 pm, you fi nd the reinforcements saturated and drainage on the bed linen. You call the physician and tell her that you believe the patient is bleeding too heavily. The physician reassures you that the amount of bleeding you have described is not excessive but encourages you to continue to monitor the patient closely. You recheck the patient’s dressings at 7 pm and 8 pm. You again call the physician and tell her that the bleeding still looks too heavy. She again reassures you and tells you to continue to watch the patient closely. At 10 pm, the patient’s blood pressure becomes nonpalpable, and she goes into shock. You summon the doctor, and she comes immediately.
ASSIGNMENT: What are the legal ramifications of this case? Using the components of professional negligence outlined in Table 5.3, determine who in this case is guilty of malpractice. Justify your answer. At what point in the scenario should each character have altered his or her actions to reduce the probability of a negative outcome?