More responsibility could create liability risk for nurse practitioners

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More responsibility could create liability risk for nurse practitioners
Nurse practitioners face professional liability risk on a daily basis

Nurse practitioners provide care to all sorts of people with various conditions and ailments. Whether they are diagnosing an acute illness or managing someone's blood pressure, there is some professional liability risk involved. If a mistake is made, this risk could turn into a malpractice lawsuit.

When nurse practitioners are faced with one of these lawsuits, it generally arises from one of three different areas.

  • Diagnosis - This is a major part of the medical process, and any mistakes during it could result in a malpractice lawsuit. Some errors that could stem from diagnosis, are  failing to identify the correct ailment or a delaying the diagnosis. Oftentimes, these errors are related to cancer, as failure to diagnose lung cancer has been an issue as well as delayed diagnosis of breast cancer.
  • Treatment - These suits are generally related to failing to treat a patient in a timely or proper manner. For example, a nurse practitioner may use the wrong methods when treating a patient, or they could wait too long. Both of these issues could result in further injury and a malpractice lawsuit.
  • Medication - Lastly, nurse practitioners can face liability issues due to medications they prescribe. One problem that could arise is failing to recognize an adverse interaction between medications that were given to a patient. Also, improperly prescribing or managing medication can also lead to liability lawsuits.

Nurse practitioners paid out millions between 2007 and 2012
According to research conducted by Nurse Services Organization, nurse practitioners paid out $44 million in liability claims durin​g the five year span ending in 2012, the Claims Journal reported. The majority of people surveyed had been working for more than 11 years, which could be a sign that the risk of a malpractice claim increases the longer they are on the job.

"The report helps nurse practitioners identify the professional liability claim patterns and trends most likely to affect their practices," NSO president Michael Loughran told the Claims Journal. "When you compare our past claim reports, it becomes evident that the cost of nurse practitioner professional liability claims has been steadily rising."

With the current doctor shortage creating additional work for nurse practitioners, these professionals need to be sure to follow risk management best practices to reduce the risk of a potential lawsuit. 

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