Common Sources of Malpractice for Nurse Practitioners

Malpractice claims are an unfortunate part of being a medical professional—whether you’re a physician, nurse, or nurse practitioner. To better understand these claims and how to avoid them, we’ve compiled a list of common sources of malpractice allegations levied against nurse practitioners.

Diagnosis-Related Allegations

The most frequent source of malpractice allegations against nurse practitioners (NPs) comes from the patient’s diagnosis. Often, a patient will see an NP before they visit a doctor and consult the NP about whether they need further treatment from a physician.

Failure to diagnose a patient is a widespread malpractice claim where an NP doesn’t recognize the symptoms of an illness or injury or fails to order additional testing that would’ve helped in the diagnosis. A disease or injury untreated can cause severe harm or death to a patient, and the NP is a frequent target in malpractice claims.

Medication Errors

One of an NP’s principal duties is prescribing and administering medication to a patient. Within medication administration, there are many opportunities for errors, such as:

  • Prescribing harmful medication
  • Dispensing the wrong amount of a medication
  • Administering the incorrect dose
  • Failure to dispense the drug at all

Medication is crucial to a patient’s health and wellbeing—simple mistakes like administering the wrong medication or medication the patient is allergic to can have dire consequences.

Pain Management

Within medication errors, there’s been a growing trend of pain management malpractice that’s coincided with the opioid epidemic. Overprescribing pain medication to patients can lead to addiction—jeopardizing the patient’s health and life.

NPs and physicians alike have had to adjust their pain management prescriptions to better diagnose the signs of addiction and be more cautious in prescribing addictive opioids. If not, they could be found liable for a patient’s addiction.

Improper Treatment

An NP has many daily duties and can also be responsible for numerous patients. Naturally, an NP can’t be everywhere at once, so if patients are overcrowded, mistakes can happen.

Some malpractice claims against NPs regarding inadequate treatment include not responding to a patient promptly, failing to report a change in the patient’s status, or even injuring the patient with a medical procedure.

As anyone can see, there are many opportunities for malpractice claims against NPs, which is why a malpractice insurance plan for nurse practitioners is essential. Mistakes happen, and patients can get hurt, but it’s not always the NP’s fault and doesn’t mean they should be liable.