No one is born a great a great nurse. They need time to gain the appropriate level of experience. In that time they need to practice on actual patients. But people want a safety net in case the nurse in training makes a mistake. We expect that they will be carefully supervised and their work will be reviewed by a capable, experienced physician or nurse. If told that a nurse is still in training most people would likely still allow that nurse to treat them but would want the treatment to be supervised by an experienced physician or nurse.
While in the training stages new inexperienced nurses have to realize what they are able to do and what they are not. The learning curve is steep but it does exist. While many errors will have little, if any, consequences some will result in serious injury or even in the death of a patient. That is why they require supervision by more senior physicians and nurses who can catch and correct the errors. Otherwise, even a single mistake that is not caught by the supervising doctor or nurse can lead to tragic results.
In one reported case an expectant mother, near full term, reported to the hospital because she was experiencing nausea and vomiting. At the hospital the pregnant woman was monitored by a nurse in training. The nurse in training read the results as normal even though they actually showed signs of severe fetal distress, a condition which requires immediate attention. The nurse in training then incorrectly interpreted the results. The woman was sent home |without knowing that her baby was suffering from a lack of oxygen.
The baby was born 3 days after the hospital visit. While the baby girl survived the delivery she had severe brain damage. She developed cerebral palsy. She had persistent seizures. The little girl spent the following [4|four] years of her life enduring seizures, undergoing therapy and having to be fed through a feeding tube as she could not eat on her own, before dying due to complications from her cerebral palsy. The law firm that handled this matter on behalf of the family reported that the case went to trial and that the jury awarded the parents $4.4 million.
This case demonstrates the risk involved when a nurse in training treats patients without supervision from a physician or a registered supervising nurse. A nurse in training is much more likely to make an error that can cause a significant injury to a patient. But while an experienced labor and delivery nurse has interpreted hundreds or thousands of these strips a nurse in training has only read a few and is much more likely to make an error. And when an error by a nurse in training is not caught by a supervising physician or nurse the result, as in the case discussed above, can be devastating and may result in a malpractice lawsuit.
Joseph Hernandez is an Attorney focused on complex injury cases, including birth injury medical malpractice cases. To learn more about fetal distress cases and how a birth injury attorney can assist you visit his website.