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South Carolina Senate considers sanctions for nursing errors

Imagine a situation in which you lost a loved one because a nurse gave him or her an injection of a drug, which was 10 times the amount, prescribed by the physician. Now also imagine that - unknown to you - the nurse who administered the fatal dosage had already been disciplined for making medication errors.

You might think that the South Carolina Board of Nursing would take strong and decisive action to keep such a nurse from making a similar error again. And you might be wrong. What if you discovered that the only discipline that the nurse faced after causing the death of your loved one was a $2000 civil fine, one year of probation and an order to take three classes?

The above scenario is not hypothetical. It actually happened to the child of a South Carolina couple, who are presently engaged in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nurse and her employer. But if a bill that has recently made it through a subcommittee of the state Senate eventually becomes law, the type of medical malpractice error described in this case would incur significantly more severe penalties, including revocation of the errant nurse's nursing license.

How the passage of such legislation would affect personal medical malpractice lawsuits remains to be seen. It is not clear, for example, whether a plaintiff's attorney in a related medical malpractice lawsuit could use revocation of a nursing license for a grossly negligent error as evidence or an argument. A state law enhancing administrative penalties after the fact for a fatal medication error may represent an independent path taken by the state, but it would not interfere with your ability to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit based on the same set of facts and circumstances.

Source: Independent mail, "S.C. Senate panel passes bills dealing with nursing errors, medical marijuana," Kirk Brown, Sept. 25, 2015

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