This page is about medical malpractice lawsuits against nurses. Our lawyers discuss how these nursing negligence claims are brought, and we discuss settlement compensation payouts and verdicts in legal cases against nurses.
A nurse commits malpractice in Maryland when she fails to do what a reasonable, prudent nurse would do, and the patient suffers harm as a result.
Every nurse must demonstrate the knowledge, skill, care, and diligence that you would expect from a nurse. If a nurse does not do so and harm is caused, the nurse is responsible. In the practical world, this means her medical insurance, the doctor’s practice, or the hospital will be responsible for the harm.
Most medical malpractice cases are directed at physicians, but the care that a nurse provides can be critical. If the nurse makes a fundamental mistake, such as giving the wrong drug or the wrong dosage of a drug, or fails to monitor a patient or notify a doctor of a concern, then a negligence claim may arise against that nurse.
The role of a nurse in our health care system has been remarkably recast in recent years. Nurses are expected to carry the patient care ball in ways not expected 50 years ago.
Our law firm has a nurse attorney on staff. If you think you have been the victim of a nurse’s malpractice, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online case review. We can help.
Common Malpractice Cases Against Nurses
A nurse can make many mistakes that can get people hurt or killed. But in most severe injury or death malpractice cases against nurses, two types of mistakes make up the lion’s share of legal cases against nurses.
Common Mistake #1: Not Getting the Medication Right
Nurses are required to do a lot of tough jobs. Getting the medication right is not one of them. It is the doctor’s job to pick out the right medicine. It is the doctor’s job to pick the correct dosage. All the nurse has to do is follow the instructions. But in alarming numbers, nurses do not get it right. These three mistakes are common themes that can get a patient hurt or killed:
- Wrong medication
- Too much medication
- Not giving the medication at all
Common Mistake #2: Nurse Fails to Assess, Monitor, and Communicate
A patient’s life can hinge on whether a nurse is paying attention to the patient and communicating problems or concerns to the doctor. Nurses have to listen to patients and observe the problems that are there to be seen. Then, they have to both document and communicate those problems or concerns.
Proving a Nursing Home Lawsuit
Three things must be shown to successfully bring a malpractice claim against a nurse.
The first is duty. This is rarely an issue in malpractice cases against nurses. Either the nurse was treating the patient or not. Our lawyers have yet to see or even hear of a medical-legal case involving nurses where this was a big issue.
Second, the patient is burdened with demonstrating that the appropriate care was not given. In Maryland, this is typically done through the expert testimony of a nurse who can tell the jury what knowledge, skill, care, and diligence the nurse should have demonstrated and how and why it was not demonstrated in this case. Another way of looking at this is that the nurse departed from “good and accepted practices.”
Third, there was a nexus between the harm that was caused and the mistake that was made. In other words, the mistake causes injury or death. In many nurse malpractice cases, this is a real issue. This is particularly true when we have the nurse dead to rights on negligence. So they argue, “It would have happened anyway.”
In Maryland, we usually will need a medical doctor to make our case and refute the argument, if it is made, that the harm would have occurred even if the negligence had not.
Do You Need a Nurse to Testify Against a Nurse to Bring a Viable Claim?
Can a doctor provide that same expert testimony? In other words, can the plaintiff’s counsel use a doctor instead of a nurse to offer opinions on the appropriate nursing standards and whether the nurse complied with those nursing standards in legal cases involving nurses?
You would think Maryland law would be settled on this point. But it is not. If you read Maryland law, you get the feeling that our appellate courts are not getting bogged down in labels. A doctor has the requisite training and experience to comment on a nurse’s standard of care, it would seem that they would be allowed to provide the testimony.
On the other hand, they could follow the much-debated Illinois case where the court rejected a medical doctor introduced to offer opinion testimony on the appropriate standard of nursing care by failing to communicate a patient’s condition to the attending doctor adequately.
The court’s rationale was that nursing is a unique profession readily distinguishable from a medical doctor. The court was also concerned that a doctor would raise the bar too high on what should reasonably be expected of a nurse.
How would a Maryland court have ruled in this case? The ultimate answer is that we do not know. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ malpractice lawyers are best served by playing it safe and naming a nurse to testify on the nursing standard of care.
Settlements and Verdicts Against Nurses
Below are examples of recent nursing malpractice cases with settlement amounts and jury payouts against nurses and nurse practitioners. This nursing lawsuit list includes only one Maryland case: our law firm’s verdict in Baltimore City for $5.2 million.
Why only one Maryland case? Most of these cases settle very confidentially long before anyone sees the courthouse steps.
These verdicts and settlements in malpractice cases against nurses are helpful in understanding the range of verdicts and settlement compensation payouts in malpractice lawsuits against nurses.
But you cannot use examples of nursing home malpractice and their settlement payouts or verdicts in other nursing court cases to predict or calculate the settlement value of your case, even for cases that seem strikingly similar to your own legal case against a nurse.
- 2023, Maryland: $9,000,000 Verdict: A local pastor became a nursing home resident after a major stroke. During his six month residency at the nursing home, he developed a severe bed sore that progressed to a sepsis infection and caused his death. His family sued the nursing home, alleging that he was severely neglected during his time at the facility, being left unattended in his own waste for days. The jury awarded $9 million, but the verdict will be reduced based on Maryland’s damages cap.
- 2023, Georgia: $10,000,000 Verdict: The plaintiffs were the family of a retired pediatric ICU nurse who was hospitalized with suspected bronchitis at an Atlanta medical center. Despite having pre-existing health issues, her condition significantly declined after admission, necessitating intubation and intensive care treatment. When reinserting her feeding tube, a nurse mistakenly placed the tube into the patient’s trachea instead of the esophagus, resulting in a punctured lung. Although there was an opportunity to detect the error immediately, it was missed, and a subsequent misreading of an X-ray meant the mistake went unnoticed for over six hours. During this time, the patient suffocated and tragically fell into an irreversible coma.
- 2023, North Carolina: $1,360,000 Verdict: A 70-year-old man underwent a screening colonoscopy at a local endoscopy center, where a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) administered deep sedation using Propofol. Tragically, the patient experienced a cardiac arrest during the procedure, from which he never regained consciousness. He was sustained on life support for seven days before being compassionately extubated. As the administrator of his estate, the patient’s wife sued the CRNA and her employer for wrongful death.
- 2021, Missouri: $34,107,628 Verdict. A newborn suffered hypoxia. He developed permanent brain damage, quadriplegia, and cerebral palsy. The boy’s mother alleged negligence against a nurse. She claimed she failed to timely increase Pitocin levels, recognize fetal distress, inform the OB/GYN of fetal heart decelerations, and consult the NICU. The nurse denied negligence. A jury ruled in the family’s favor. They awarded $34,107,628.
- 2021, Pennsylvania: $400,000 Settlement. A 48-year-old man underwent a kidney transplant. Following the procedure, he suffered a BK virus infection. The man subsequently underwent monthly Cidofovir transfusions for five months. He was supposed to receive 25.9 mg doses. Instead, the man received 259 mg doses. He developed severe complications, including kidney dysfunction. The man’s body rejected the transplant. This caused him to suffer from depression. He tragically ended his own life. The man’s husband alleged negligence against the administering nurses. They claimed they administered the wrong dose and failed to recognize Cidofovir overdose signs. This case settled for $400,000.
- 2020, New York: $1,318,182 Settlement. A newborn boy was born via emergency C-section. He suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, meconium aspiration syndrome, and respiratory distress. The boy developed behavioral abnormalities and developmental delays. His mother sued the treating nurse-midwife for malpractice. She claimed she negligently continued administering Cervidil despite fetal distress and delayed the delivery. The defense denied liability. This case settled for $1,318,182.
- 2020, New York: $225,000 Settlement. A baby girl was admitted to the NICU. She underwent an IV infiltration on her foot. The girl suffered a foot injury. She developed tissue necrosis, swelling, blistering, pain, and permanent scarring. The NICU nurse is sued for malpractice for negligently monitoring the IV. This case settled for $225,000.
- 2020, Wisconsin: $178,520 Verdict. A 19-year-old woman with cerebral palsy resided in a nursing home. Her treating nurse heated a compress in a microwave before drawing her blood. She placed it on the woman’s arm for an indefinite period. The woman suffered third-degree right arm burns. She also developed post-traumatic stress disorder. Ultimately, she died from unrelated causes before the lawsuit was filed. Her family hired a nursing negligence lawyer and sued the nurse for mistakes made in performing the blood draw. The defense admitted liability but disputed the damages. The jury awarded $178,520.
- 2019, Maryland: $2,000,000 Verdict. A woman underwent an intramuscular Phenergan injection to her sciatic nerve. She suffered permanent sciatica with radiculopathy. The woman alleged negligence against the administering nurse. She claimed she negligently targeted her sciatic nerve instead of her gluteus medius. The woman also alleged vicarious liability against Patient First. The defense contested liability. A Baltimore City jury ruled in the woman’s favor. They awarded her $2,000,000.
- 2019, New York: $926,358 Settlement. A newborn girl suffered neuropathy and a brachial plexus injury. Her mother alleged negligence against the nurse-midwife. She claimed she failed to provide appropriate prenatal care, timely order physical exams, interpret sonograms, consider macrosomia, and properly address shoulder dystocia. This case settled for $926,358.
- 2018, New York: $500,000 Settlement. A baby girl underwent an IV infusion shortly after birth. She suffered a right-hand chemical burn. The girl’s right hand was now permanently disfigured. She developed scars. The girl’s mother alleged negligence against the nurse practitioner who administered the infusion. She claimed she improperly administered and monitored it. This case settled for $500,000.
- 2017, Pennsylvania: $1,900,000 Settlement. A 71-year-old woman suffered a heart attack while undergoing dialysis. She subsequently underwent a sternotomy and an aortic valve replacement. Following these procedures, the woman developed an infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia. She was put on Bactrim. The treating registered nurse unintentionally administered Levophed, a vasoconstrictor. As a result, the woman suffered sudden cardiac death. Her family alleged negligence and wrongful death against the registered nurse. They claimed she negligently administered the wrong medication. The defense admitted liability. This case settled for $1,900,000.
- 2016, Florida: $380,967 Verdict. A man came under the care of several registered nurses. He suffered bedsores and a Stage IV coccyx ulcer. The man alleged negligence against the registered nurses. He claimed they failed to regularly reposition him and prevent his bedsores from deteriorating. The defense denied liability. They argued comparative negligence. A jury found a registered nurse 65 percent liable and plaintiff 35 percent liable. They awarded $380,967.
- 2015, New Jersey: $10,000,000 Settlement. A 15-month-old plaintiff arrives at the hospital with pneumonia. The nurse attempts to intubate him three times but is unsuccessful. She does not tell anyone that after the third attempt, the tube is carelessly placed in the esophagus, causing oxygen deprivation. As a result, the child suffers a severe anoxic insult that causes brain damage, leaving him requiring 24-hour-a-day care for his entire life. The plaintiff claims that the nurse should have asked for the physician’s assistance after unsuccessfully intubating the first time. The case settles quickly after the suit is filed for $10,000,000.
- 2015, Pennsylvania:$25,000 Settlement. A 13-year-old girl is at the University of Pittsburg Physicians when a physician’s assistant leaves her unattended after administering an injection. She falls off the table, hits her head, and suffers a concussion and a cervical strain. Her parents brought a claim, alleging that the physician’s assistant failed to place her in a prone position, failed to think about the injection’s side effects, including dizziness, and failed to assess her and prevent her fall properly. The defendant denies liability in this nursing malpractice case but agrees to settle for $25,000.
- 2015, Massachusetts:$5,000,000 Settlement. A mom goes to the hospital 31 weeks pregnant due to headaches, vomiting, and burning chest pain. The nurse monitors her condition but fails to check her blood pressure. Once the nurse finally does take the woman’s blood pressure, it shows preeclampsia. The baby shows a concerning heart rate pattern, but the nurse fails to tell the physician until after an hour and a half. Once a physician finally evaluates her, they have an emergency C-section done. As a result of the delay, allegedly, the infant suffers from oxygen deprivation and brain damage. The plaintiff’s nursing malpractice lawsuit claims that the nurse failed to evaluate her and diagnose her preeclampsia properly. The nurse argues there was no deviation from the standard of care. The parties agree to a confidential settlement of $5,000,000.
- 2015, California:$1,500,000 Settlement. A 47-year-old teacher has low back surgery at the hospital. After the surgery, she died due to bleeding, which resulted from a small puncture of a vessel during surgery. Her family claims the nurses failed to call the surgeon despite signs of bleeding post-surgery, increased pulse, and decreased blood pressure. The nurse agrees to settle at mediation for $1,500,000.
- 2014, New York:$3,065,899 Settlement. A mother gives birth to her son under the care of two certified nurse-midwives. The infant suffers from oxygen deprivation, neurological injury, and spastic cerebral palsy during delivery. The mom brings a nursing malpractice case – a midwife is a nurse – alleging they negligently failed to convert to a C-section after observing signs of fetal distress. The parties settle for $3,065,899.
- 2014, Baltimore City: $5,200,000 Verdict. An adult male is taken to St. Agnes Hospital via ambulance after he is injured at work when a barrier gate traps and twists his leg. He was diagnosed with a knee sprain at the ER and sent home. After two days, he is still experiencing numbness and pain and no sensation in his left foot. He returns to the hospital, at which time they discover that almost all the ligaments and tendons in his knee are torn and dislocated. His popliteal artery is injured, causing diminished blood flow to the leg. Two attempts are made to save his leg, however, he is ultimately transferred to the University of Maryland Hospital for an above-the-knee amputation. He brings a claim against the doctor and physician’s assistant for medical malpractice. He claims that the physician’s assistant evaluated him first and noted several severe symptoms on his chart but did not order any diagnostic tests other than an X-ray, and she did not evaluate the range of movement. This causes a misdiagnosis, and it is alleged to be the cause of his injury. A jury found the doctor and the physician’s assistant negligent and awarded $5,200,000 to the plaintiff. Miller & Zois handled this case for a very deserving client.
- 2014, Massachusetts:$4,000,000 Arbitration Award. A 55-year-old male has a C1 neck fracture, not involving his spinal cord. He is treated with halo traction to help stabilize his neck, and several days into the treatment, he begins to experience disorientation and changes in his mental status. A psychiatrist orders 24-hour observation. His mental status continues to deteriorate, and antipsychotic medications are ordered. He begins to have difficulty swallowing and drinking, and despite these symptoms, no pulmonary consult is ordered. During the 24-hour observation, the sitter leaves the room to use the restroom with the nurse’s consent. A nurse comes in to replace her and finds the man unresponsive with a pulse in the 40s and abnormal oxygen levels. He suffers massive brain damage and dies. His family brings a claim against the physicians and nurses and – like in many malpractice lawsuits against nurses – alleges negligence in monitoring his condition. In this case, extra monitoring was necessary because of his risk of aspiration or pulmonary embolism. At arbitration, the arbitrator found in favor of the man and awarded $4,000,000 to the plaintiff.
- 2014, Michigan:$50,000 Settlement. A three-day-old infant is in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital. An IV is placed in his right foot and allegedly infiltrates while he is receiving a total parenteral nutrition solution and intralipids under the care of the registered nurses. He suffers ischemia and necrosis from tissue damage as a result, which leads to his right third and fourth toes being amputated. His parents brought a claim against the nurses, alleging that they failed to ensure the IV site was covered in a way that would allow it to be visible at all times and that they failed to monitor, inspect, and remove the IV from the baby’s foot when the parenteral salutation began flowing into the foot tissues. The parties settle for $50,000.
- 2014, Texas: $1,600,000 Verdict. A 52-year-old male has a partial left shoulder replacement done at the hospital. He is discharged, but two days later, he returns to the hospital, showing signs of inadequate blood flow to his arm. He has a bypass procedure is done and incisions in the fascia to relieve some of the pressure. Due to muscle and nerve damage, he now has limited use of his left arm and hand. The plaintiff argues that the nurses should have noticed the signs of inadequate blood flow and called the surgeon. The hospital claims that the nurses informed the anesthesiologist multiple times that the arm showed poor circulation. Plaintiff then argues that they did not inform the surgeon of the issue. A jury awards the plaintiff and awards him $1.6 million.
- 2014, California:$375,000 Settlement. An adult female has surgery, does well, and is transferred to the ICU and then to a private room as she appears fine. However, a few hours later, when the staff comes to draw her blood, she is found unresponsive and hypothermic. They attempt to resuscitate her, but her health deteriorates, and she dies five days later. Her estate alleges that she was overmedicated, that the PCA pump was not functioning properly, and that the pulse oximetry alarms were not working because if they were, the nursing staff would have been alerted to her deteriorating state much faster. The defendants deny this but settle the case for $375,000.
- 2013, New York:$550,000 Settlement. An eight-month-old boy is assigned to a visiting nurse at the hospital for pediatric care. This nurse does not plot the boy’s head circumference measurements, which results in her failure to recognize the boy was developing hydrocephalus. This results in permanent brain damage and his inability to live independently. His family files a nursing negligence lawsuit against the hospital for the failure to adequately monitor the nurse’s progress reports and against the nurse for failing to keep adequate records. The defendants deny liability but settle, with the hospital paying $100,000 and the nurse paying $450,000.
- 2013, Massachusetts:$200,000 Settlement. A 62-year-old man has a surgical procedure done, during which he develops hypoxia. He is kept in the ICU and intubated when he experiences hypoxia again. Tests show that he may have blood clots in his lungs, so he has a ventilation-perfusion scan done, which confirms this. The surgeon does not order Heparin but orders a different anticoagulant medication, and the order is written by his physician’s assistant, not immediately, causing a delay before the patient finally gets his medicine. Twelve hours after the first dose, he has severe respiratory distress, and the nurse gives him anti-anxiety medication and morphine as directed by the chief resident whom she asked, instead of the physician’s assistant or surgeon. The man dies from multiple blood clots in his lungs, and his estate brings a nursing malpractice lawsuit against the doctor’s assistant and nurse, alleging negligence in timely ordering and administering the medication. He further alleges the nurse was negligent in administering the anti-anxiety and pain medications when he was in respiratory distress. The defendants argue that the medication ordered, Lovenox, could be used in place of Heparin and is approved by the FDA. A confidential settlement was reached for $200,000.
- 2013, Louisiana:$124,089 Verdict. An adult female has a right total knee arthroplasty done at the hospital. She suffers a stage II sacral decubitus ulcer, and enzymatic debridement is required. She brings a claim, alleging the ulcer was preventable and caused by the nursing staff’s negligence in treating her. She claims that the nursing staff failed to respond to her complaints of pain, failed to perform skin assessments, and failed to help relieve pressure on her sacral area. The defendants admit liability but dispute the extent of her injuries, and a jury awards her $124,089.
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