The medical care industry in Massachusetts is booming and shows no signs of stopping. But there may be a dark side to our country’s increasing need for health care. Malpractice claims against nurse practitioners are on the rise.
Most commonly, medical malpractice claims are filed against physicians, but any healthcare worker is potentially liable. And there are certain factors and trends in healthcare that explain the rise in malpractice claims against nurse practitioners.
The population is aging
The biggest root cause behind the rise in malpractice suits and claims against nurse practitioners is the United States’ aging population. As a general rule, older people require more healthcare. And as the population gets older, this puts more pressure on the healthcare system.
This leads to a shortage of physicians, which we’re currently experiencing. And that leaves nurse practitioners doing some of the work doctors might have otherwise done. Some of that work happens to be tasks that open nurse practitioners up to malpractice claims.
Some tasks are more prone to malpractice claims
Some healthcare tasks have a higher incidence of malpractice claims associated with them. And as nurse practitioners take on those tasks at a higher rate due to rising demand for healthcare and the shortage of primary care physicians, this leads to more malpractice claims.
One of the primary areas of malpractice claims is in the administration of medications. And once again, the aging population contributes, as older patients require more medication.
As nurse practitioners are increasingly responsible for prescribing medication, mistakes are inevitable. This is true for any healthcare provider, including doctors. But now, more nurse practitioners are the target of malpractice suits in this area.
Another frequent cause of malpractice claims is the untimely or improper management of pressure injuries. With older patients especially, injuries of this type result in a high incidence of malpractice issues.
Overall, an aging population has driven a rise in healthcare demand and led to a shortage in physicians. As nurse practitioners pick up that slack, they bear the brunt of more malpractice claims.