This week in North Carolina, a court of appeals made an incredibly significant decision concerning nurses. The North Carolina court decided whether nurses can be liable for medical negligence. Quite startingly, considering the pivotal role nurses play in modern medicine, the court decided that nurses can’t be held liable for their treatment or diagnosis of patients.
Bloomberg Law reports:
Nurses in North Carolina can’t be held liable for medical malpractice based on their diagnosis or treatment of patients, a state appeals court said Tuesday, relying on an 88-year-old decision of the state’s supreme court.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals was bound by the 1932 decision that nurses aren’t liable for medical malpractice because they merely carry out a physician’s orders and aren’t experts in medical diagnosis or treatment, it said.
The court decision states:
Nearly a century ago, our Supreme Court rejected the notion that nurses can be liable for medical malpractice based on their diagnosis and treatment of patients. The Court reasoned that nurses “are not supposed to be experts in the technique of diagnosis or the mechanics of treatment.” Byrd v. Marion Gen. Hosp., 202 N.C. 337 , 162 S.E. 738 , 740 (1932).
Had Byrd left room for evolving standards as the field of medicine changed, this may be a different case. But the Byrd court’s holding is categorical, and it is controlling here. … On issues where our Supreme Court already has spoken, we do not make law, we follow it.
How does the law in North Carolina compare to the law in Maryland? More important, can Maryland nurses be held liable for medical malpractice? The simple answer is yes. While Maryland law is in some ways unfriendly to people injured by medical professionals, Marylanders can hold nurses liable for their acts of negligence.
Frequent examples of nursing negligence include failure to monitor patients properly, failure to communicate significant changes in a patient’s condition to a physician, and medication errors. Notably, nursing negligence plays a significant role in many Maryland birth injury cases.
Because one of the best ways to improve healthcare is to ensure that the professionals we put our trust in are held accountable when their negligence causes harm, Marylanders can today count themselves lucky not to be in the state of North Carolina.
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If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional in Maryland, you may have questions about your legal options. If you have not yet started a lawsuit and are contemplating bringing one, I encourage you to contact me today. I can answer your legal questions and would love to talk with you. You can reach me at 410-513-9978 or by email at email@example.com.