The Dallas hospital involved in the Thomas Eric Duncan case settled for an undisclosed amount before a lawsuit was even filed. By doing so the hospital avoided a costly legal battle as well as the potential for a lot of negative publicity regarding race and lack of insurance.
The Duncan case is a great case study for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants in how direct corporate liability allegations can be applied against hospitals in medical malpractice cases. As you read the list below consider the application of these allegations in your own legal nurse consulting cases.
1. Failure to provide adequate training for healthcare providers.
This would have been a key allegation in the Duncan case. In fact, at the time of the Duncan case, hospitals throughout the U.S. were all over the map on this one. RNs reported everything from extensive training to the CDC Ebola guidelines simply being posted on a bulletin board.
2. Negligent lack of preparedness.
This can include inadequate policies and procedures. In the Duncan case there was a failure to have extensive protocols on treating suspicious patients as well as on treating a patient with Ebola.
Specific examples of policies and procedures include:
- Documenting and reporting suspicious travel history.
- EMR alerts for suspicious travel history.
- Proper isolation and containment procedures and procedures for safe disposal of hazardous wastes.
Lack of preparedness can also include negligently failing to have the proper equipment and supplies. In the Duncan case there was the issue of failing to have full impermeable personal protective equipment (PPE) in place and failing to properly supervise donning and doffing of PPE.
3. Negligently failing to respond to an RN’s request for training, policies and procedures and full impermeable PPE.
Briana Aguirre busted the Dallas hospital on national TV on just these issues.
4. Negligent delegation of an Ebola patient to the most inexperienced nurses.
Am I the only RN who is curious why the two nurses who contracted Ebola in the Duncan case were so young?
Hopefully we won’t have to use these allegations in future Ebola cases, but we’ll certainly see them in a variety of other medical malpractice cases.
I’m Just Sayin’
P.S. Comment and share your favorite direct corporate liability allegations you’ve used as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant.