Discuss the standard(s) of care to which the parties will be held in this case scenario. How will the standards of care and your state’s Nurse Practice Act be applied in the courts if the case is sued?
SK, age 61, went to the hospital with what she thought was a bad cold, and was admitted with a diagnosis of pneumonia. Following admission, she became increasingly feverish and short of breath, but her family’s calls for help went unanswered. In fact, her daughter was unable to find anyone when she went to the nurses’ station looking for help. The patient eventually stopped breathing, and someone finally responded to the family’s desperate and frantic calls for help. SK was successfully resuscitated, but sustained brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. She was left unable to walk, talk, or care for herself.
Because of nurse understaffing in the hospital, her assigned RN had not assessed her often enough and did not monitor her oxygen level. There were 41 other patients on this unit. Although the hospital’s own staffing standards called for five registered nurses and two licensed practical nurses to staff this unit, only three registered nurses were on duty. Records for the unit in question indicated that the hospital failed to meet its own staffing standards for 51 out of 59 days before this incident.