LawTalk Blog

Duty of care of nurses to patients

nurses duty of care

Often medical negligence claims centre around treatment from nurses.  In this situation there is still recourse for compensation as the nurses are invariably employees of the hospital or health organisation that they work for and they are accordingly covered by the hospital or health organisation’s medical indemnity insurance.

The employer of the nurse is vicariously liable for the actions of the nurse and the nurses are not personally responsible for negligent conduct.  This is the case even if the nurses behaviour is what is considered grossly negligent.

For a nurse to be personally liable for their conduct, the conduct would need to be almost criminal conduct; for example, deliberately causing harm to a patient.

Nurses can potentially be negligent for omitting to act. For example, a nurse may fail to advise a doctor of a variation in the patient’s symptoms or that a particular drug has been administered to the patient and this omission, this failure to advise or failure to act can amount to negligence.

There are nurse practitioners who practice independently of hospitals and health organisations and in those circumstances they are required to have their own medical indemnity insurance so a patient who has suffered injury at the hands of an independent nurse practitioner can still pursue a claim for compensation from the insurer for the nurse practitioners negligence. 

If you have suffered injury or illness as a result of the negligence of nursing staff at a hospital or health organisation you should seek experienced legal advice from a solicitor experienced in medical negligence claims.


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Suzanne Pinyon

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Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to South Australian legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.


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