"Failure to monitor" is a common basis of medical malpractice claims, but many people find themselves wondering what exactly this term means. Simply put, failure to monitor encompasses any action that can be interpreted as a healthcare provider neglecting to watch over a patient. This can occur in a doctor’s office, while having surgery, while giving birth, or while receiving care from a nurse. The root causes can include understaffed facilities, poorly trained care providers, or communication gaffes.
Failure to Monitor in a Doctor's Office
When you make an appointment to see your doctor, you have a reasonable expectation that he or she will review your chart and medical history. If your doctor fails to do this, the doctor could prescribe a medication you are allergic to, recommend treatment that is likely to be ineffective based on your past care, or neglect to order tests when your previous symptoms indicate a serious medical condition. Any of these scenarios could qualify as a legitimate malpractice claim. Failing to follow up with test results or to accurately document your condition could also be considered medical malpractice if these actions cause verifiable serious physical or emotional harm.
Failure to Monitor During and After Surgery
During a surgical procedure, patients must be monitored to make sure they have steady blood pressure, stable heartbeat, and are receiving enough oxygen to the brain. Anesthesiologists must make sure patients receive the proper dose both before and during the procedure. If any of these tasks are not performed, and hard occurs, a malpractice suit may be in order.
After surgery, patients need to be monitored to avoid potentially life threatening post-op complications. Nurses usually check a patient's vitals regularly based on a supervising doctor's orders. If a patient experiences blood clots, infection, internal bleeding, heart problems, or prolonged breathing difficulties due to a failure to monitor, the patient may be entitled to compensation.
Failure to Monitor During Childbirth
A woman giving birth for the first time is typically in labor for 8 to 18 hours. Labor times generally decrease for subsequent births, but will still often span several hours. During this time, the mother must be carefully monitored to ensure the health of both her and her child. Her vital signs are monitored, contractions are timed, her cervix is checked, and her child's heart rate is constantly tracked with a fetal heart rate monitor.
Without monitoring, and proper medical responses to the warnings from the monitors can result in complications that could affect their future fertility of a women or her ability to enjoy sexual intercourse. Some labor-related complications can also be fatal to a woman, her infant or create lifelong disabilities for her child.
Failure to Monitor as the Basis of a Nurse Malpractice Claim
Because nurses are often the ones responsible for much of a patient’s direct care patients receive, nurses are held to strict legal standards regarding medical malpractice. If you report your symptoms to a nurse and she fails to take action, she could be held liable for any damages you incur as a result.
Nurses are also considered guilty of failing to monitor if they don't follow a doctor's orders or medical standards. Examples of this type of conduct would include neglecting to give a patient necessary medication or neglecting to check a patient's vital signs at the requested intervals. These actions can have serious or even fatal consequences, depending upon the patient’s condition.
What’s the Next Step?
It’s not enough to simply prove that your healthcare provider failed to monitor you appropriately. To win a malpractice case, you must prove that this failure is responsible for the harm you’ve suffered. To provide the necessary proof, you’ll need the assistance of an experienced malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice cases have strict statutes of limitation, so you should take action as soon as you believe you have a legal right to compensation. Inland Empire Law Group’s team of personal injury attorneys can help if you experienced serious injuries from a failure to monitor while receiving treatment from doctors, hospitals or other medical facilities in the Inland Empire. To schedule a consultation, call us at (888) MY IE LAW.