Possible Liability for Nurse’s Malpractice

Medical Malpractice Lawyer Phoenix, AZ

When you think of medical malpractice, you may think primarily of doctors as defendants. However, any provider in the health care field has the potential for negligence, which means that the substandard treatment you receive that prompts the malpractice suit could have been performed by nurses, lab technicians, etc.

In other words, it is certainly possible for a nurse to commit malpractice. If this happens, however, it may be more difficult to determine who is liable for the damages it causes. A nurse who is negligent is only one possible defendant in a subsequent malpractice suit. Other potential defendants include the nurse’s employer and the attending doctor. It is entirely possible that a medical malpractice suit may have more than one defendant.

Nurse’s Employer

A nurse is often employed by a health care facility, e.g., a hospital or private clinic. When a nurse commits malpractice, a legal theory known as vicarious liability may apply in which the employer assumes liability for the negligence of employees.

A medical malpractice suit may name just the employer as a defendant or both the employer and the nurse. It may be more worthwhile to sue the employer rather than the nurse because the former is likely to have more insurance coverage than the latter.

Attending Physician

Because the nurse is supposed to be under the supervision of the attending physician, the doctor may be a defendant in a medical malpractice case. Doctors are not always in the room while nurses are providing care to patients, but when they are, they have an opportunity to prevent negligent behavior by a nurse before it causes harm to a patient. A doctor who fails to do so may potentially be held liable for the malpractice.


It is rare for a nurse to be named as a defendant in a malpractice suit. It is more common to sue the employer and/or supervisor(s). Nevertheless, some nurses are increasingly asked to treat patients independently, which leaves them vulnerable to malpractice suits.

If the nurse is employed by a nonprofit organization, it may be to your strategic legal advantage to sue the nurse rather than the hospital/clinic because a charitable immunity cap that limits the amount of damages you can receive may apply in your jurisdiction.

Another situation in which you may be able to sue a nurse directly is if the nurse provided home health care. Despite following the orders of a doctor, the nurse often works independently and is therefore primarily responsible for the patient’s care.

Liability for medical malpractice is not always straightforward, especially when it is committed by someone other than a doctor. A medical malpractice lawyer in Phoenix, AZ from Rispoli Law, PLLC should be able to help you make the determination. Contact a law firm for more information.