Professional Development Exercises : Read the case study presented at the end of Chapter 9 (Guido, p. 185-186). he patient, on the first day postoperative for a transurethral prostate resection, received a unit of packed cells early in the morning on the supposition that he was bleeding internally. That afternoon at 3:22 p.m., the patient’s wife informed the nurse that her husband was breathing “heavily” and requested that the nurse assess him. The nurse, according to the testimony of the wife, informed her that the doctor was aware of the patient’s breathing pattern and that there was nothing about which she should worry. The nurse did not leave the nursing station. The patient subsequently died related to a shock from the internal bleeding complicated by a reaction to the blood transfusion. In court some years later, this same nurse testified that she had called the surgeon immediately to report that the patient’s respirations were 50, that she had taken vital signs that were within the normal limits for this patient, and that she had obtained a pulse oximeter reading that was acceptable. She also testified that she kept calling the physician’s office to report these findings. None of this nursing care was documented in the progress notes that the patient’s nurse placed in the patient’s chart the next day. The nurse testified that she had compiled the progress notes from scratch notes she had written during the previous afternoon. The nurse further testified that it was her practice to make handwritten notes during the time that she worked and then to type her progress notes on the hospital system the next day. Additionally, this nurse never documented taking vital signs during the critical 2 hours between the spike in the patient’s respirations and the time he was pronounced. T he surgeon’s office nurse testified that a call was received from the hospital at 4:00 p.m. and that the surgeon immediately left the office for the hospital. The surgeon testified that he called the hospital from his car phone and that he immediately called a code as soon as he reached the patient’s room. Did the lack of documentation in the admitting nurse’s assessment and notes affect the ultimate outcome of this case? Was there negligence on the part of the nursing staff in the care of this patient? What could the nurse have done differently to facilitate a different outcome in this case? How would you decide this case? Using the sample professional liability insurance policy (Guido, p. 193-194), locate the various provisions: DECLARATIONS Policyholder’s Name: ___Judy Doe __________________________________________ Covered Professional Occupation: Registered Nurse; Staff position Acute care institution or community health/home health Coverage Period: May 1, 2008 through April 30, 2009 Duties in Event of a Claim: If there is a claim, you must do the following: 1. notify us and our program administrator, in writing, as soon as possible; 2. specify the names and addresses of the injured party(s) and any witnesses, information on the time and place of the event; 3. verbally discuss the nature of the event with our claims representative; 4. immediately forward all documents that you receive in connection with the claim to us: 5. fully cooperate with us, or our designee, in the consummation of settlements, the defense of suits or other proceedings, enforcing any right of contribution or indemnity against another who may be liable to you because of injury or damage. You shall attend hearings and trials, assist in securing and giving evidence, and obtaining the attendance of witnesses; 6. refuse, except at your own cost, to voluntarily make any payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense. Limits of the policy: $1,000.000 per claim/$3,000,000 aggregate In consideration of payment of the premium, in reliance upon the statements in the declarations and subject to all of the terms of this policy, agrees with the named insured as follows: COVERAGE AGREEMENTS The company will pay on behalf of the insured all sums that the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of: COVERAGE—INDIVIDUAL PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY Injury arising out of the rendering of or failure to render, during the policy period, professional services by the individual insured, or by any person for whose acts or omissions such insured is legally responsible, except as a member of a partnership, performed in the practice of the individual insured’s profession described in the declarations including service by the individual insured as a member of a formal accreditation or similar professional board or committee of a hospital or professional society. EXCLUSION This insurance does not apply to: 1. Liability of the insured as a proprietor, superintendent, or executive officer of any hospital, sanitarium, clinic with bed and board facilities, laboratory or business enterprise other than as stated in the above declarations; 2. Liability of the insured as a nurse-anesthetist or as a nurse midwife. LIMITS OF LIABILITY Individual Professional Liability The limit of liability stated in the declarations as applicable to each claim is the limit of the company’s liability for all damages because of each claim or suit covered hereby. All claims arising from the same rendering of or failure to render the same professional services shall be considered a single claim for the purposes of this insurance. The limit of liability stated in the declarations as aggregate is, subject to the above provision respecting each claim, the total limit of the company’s liability under this coverage for all damages. Such limits of liability shall apply separately to each insured. SUPPLEMENTARY PAYMENTS The company will pay, in addition to the applicable limit of liability: 1. All expenses incurred by the company, all costs taxed against the insured in any suit defended by the company, and all interest on the entire amount of the judgment therein that accrues after entry of the judgment and before the company has paid or tendered or deposited in court that part of the judgment that does not exceed the limit of the company’s liability thereon. 2. Such premiums on appeal bonds required in any such suit, premiums on bonds to release attachments in any such suit for an amount not in excess of the applicable limit of liability of this policy, and the cost of bail bonds required of the insured because of accident or traffic law violations arising out of the use of any vehicle to which this policy applies, not to exceed $250 per bail bond, but the company shall have no obligation to apply for or furnish such bonds. 3. Reasonable expenses incurred by the insured at the company’s request in assisting the company in the investigation or defense of any claim or suit, including actual loss of earnings not to exceed $25 per day. DEFINITIONS “Insured” means any person or organization qualifying as the policy holder in the person’s insured provision of this policy. The insurance afforded applies separately to each insured against whom claim is made or suit is brought, except with respect to the limits of the company’s liability. “Damages” means all damages, including damages for death, that are payable because of injury to which the insurance applies. “Named insured” means the person or organization named in the declarations of this policy. CONDITIONS Insured’s duties in the event of occurrence, claim, or suit: 1. Upon the insured’s becoming aware of any alleged injury to which this insurance applies, written notice containing particulars sufficient to identify the insured and also reasonably obtainable information with respect to the time, place, and circumstances thereof, and the names and addresses of the injured and of available witnesses, shall be given by or for the insured to the company or any of its authorized agents as soon as practicable. 2. If claim is made or suit is brought against the insured, the insured shall immediately forward to the company every demand, notice, summons, or other process received by him or his representative. 3. The insured shall cooperate with the company and, upon the company’s request, assist in making settlements, in the conduct of suits and in enforcing any right of contribution or indemnity against any person or organization who may be liable to the insured because of injury or damage with respect to which insurance is afforded under this policy; and the insured shall attend hearings and trials and assist in securing and giving evidence and obtaining the attendance of witnesses. The insured shall not, except at his own cost, voluntarily make any payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense. SUBROGATION In the event of any payment under this policy, the company shall be subrogated to all of the insured’s rights of recovery therefore against any person or organization, and the insured shall execute and deliver instruments and papers and do whatever else is necessary to secure such rights. The insured shall do nothing after loss to prejudice such rights. ASSIGNMENT The interest hereunder of any insured is not assignable. CHANGES Notice to any agent or knowledge possessed by any agent or by any other person shall not effect a waiver or change in any part of this policy or stop the company from asserting any right under the terms of this policy; nor shall the terms of this policy be waived or changed, except by endorsement issued to form a part of this policy, signed by a duly authorized representative of this company Limits of liability Declarations Deductibles Exclusions Reservation of rights Covered injuries Defense costs Coverage conditions and supplementary payments Did you have difficulty finding some of the sections? Would this be a policy that you would consider purchasing for your own liability coverage? Why or why not? Read the case study presented at the end of Chapter 10 (Guido, p. 198) During an unexpected heat wave, the administrator of a nursing home decided against turning on the air conditioner, which resulted in the death of four of the residents of the home. One of the deceased resident’s daughters brought a lawsuit against the home for a wrongful death suit. She was awarded a judgment of $275,000. She then filed a second lawsuit against the nursing home’s insurance company to collect payment on the judgment. The insurance company refused to pay, stating that the judgment underlying the lawsuit was professional liability and the insurance company did not cover the nursing home for professional judgment. The nursing home then filed a lawsuit against the insurance company for payment of this judgment. What provisions of an insurance policy would you consult to determine if an insurance company should pay such a claim, and what would the limits of the liability be? Is the nursing home insurance company correct in saying that this is a professional judgment issue? Which insurance company (the nursing home’s or that of the administrator of the nursing home, assuming she has coverage) should pay the court-ordered judgment? How would you decide the case?
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