As a Nurse, What Should I do if an Accident Occurs at Work?

Despite being a healthcare provider and working in a setting that is meant to heal people, accidents can still occur. These can be related to a patient falling or attempting to do something their body is not yet ready for, or maybe you slipped and fell at work. No matter what accident occurs, it is important to be prepared for when they do. This article is meant to elucidate what kind of malpractice accidents occur, as well as how you should respond to them.

What accidents can occur?

Accidents inside of a hospital can vary in severity and are hard to prevent sometimes. These include things like the removal of medical equipment (IV, catheter, etc.) or a patient slipping and falling before their bodies have recovered enough for physical activity.

These things happen, and only so much can prevent a patient from hurting themselves. Luckily, there are preventative measures in place, like monitors and a call button, so these accidents can be managed properly to avoid malpractice claims.

Other accidents are more serious and are often at the end of the healthcare providers. These accidents are things like medical negligence, such as mixing up prescriptions or dosages, to the extreme of surgical errors. Some of these mistakes can be life-threatening to the patients, and can even fall under malpractice.

Finally, there are also simple work-related accidents like you falling and hurting your arm on the floor. I know as healthcare providers, it can be stressful and exhausting, but make sure to not overexert yourself. Both you and your patients will be happier if you remain both physically and mentally healthy.

What to do when an accident occurs

Now that we’ve covered most of the accidents that can occur on the job, let’s talk about what should be done when they do happen. One of the most important things to do is to report it immediately. You do not want to let any accidents, whether negligent or not, slide under the rug, as that could cause more harm than good.

The best defense against medical or surgical negligence is documentation. Make sure to keep all records of dosage and treatment up to date. This will help clear up any confusion and determine if or what the error is much quicker. During surgery, also make sure to monitor the situation carefully and take notes on any changes during the process. Ensure all other staff in the room do not skip or repeat anything on the patient with detailed record-keeping.

Each individual should invest in a personal professional liability insurance policy. All CM&F policies provide portable 24/7 coverage, following you wherever you go. One policy covers all your roles within scope of practice, including full-time, part-time, contract, and volunteer positions.

Unfortunately, accidents do occur, so having a policy that protects your career in the event of a malpractice lawsuit is essential.

By Melissa DeCapua, DNP, PMHNP
Dr. Melissa DeCapua is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner who graduated from Vanderbilt University. Her background is in child and adolescent psychiatry as well as psychosomatic medicine, and she currently works as a researcher Microsoft. She is a strong advocate for empowering nurses, and she fiercely believes that nurses should play a pivotal role in shaping modern healthcare. For more information, visit melissadecapua.com and follow her on Twitter @melissadecapua.

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