District Nurse Negligence

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District Nurse Negligence

Rarely are Medical Solicitors asked to deal with actions for District Nurse negligence. These nurses tend to be highly skilled and fiercely independent clinical specialists. They also tend to have strong support networks so if they have a problem it is easily picked up. However, like many aspects of modern medicine, things are changing.  

The specialism of remote or district nursing has been largely effected by the imposition of targets and the need to get to grips with acute levels of staff shortages. Many patients now exit full time hospital care where once they would have been dealt with on the ward and this leads to an earlier discharge than might otherwise have been the case. Increasingly DN teams are being asked to fulfill these roles in the community.

The district nurses often find themselves dealing with a large community of patients many of whom just a few years ago would not have been released. The needs of this group vary, however, some of them need very serious care and the time necessary to give it is just not at the nurses disposal. This can lead to things getting missed and symptoms that should be warning signs of more serious injury or infection just getting ignored or misinterpreted. The outcome for the patients can be catastrophic. 

It is important to remember that every clinician has the right and the duty to raise the flag if things are going wrong or if patients are suffering because of poor practice. If you have suffered district nurse negligence, no matter who is at fault it is then you should bring an action. If you do not do this then the system will likely go on ignoring the issues and continuing to bring the wrong answers to 21st Century medicine.  

Who pays for the claim? Law Med members have a unique agreement which is industry beating.

What is a District Nurse or a Community Nurse?

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Generally its the sort of care that a patient cannot reasonably be expected to self perform that is fulfilled by community nurse. Its frequently a failure to deal with issues such as wound care that leads to a district nurse claim.

The role of a modern-day nurse might seem simple enough to those not in the know; a patient is admitted to hospital and care is administered. However, in the UK most of the roles filled by Nurses are not really commensurate with Hospital care. For instance the roles of district and community nursing. Frequently these two roles are confused and more often than not they are in fact the same role.

What is a district Nurse’s role.

A district nurse is a registered general nurse (RGN) who operates within a defined community. Specially trained, these nurses play a pivotal role in the modern-day primary healthcare team and are charged with leading teams of community-based nurses and support workers. Typically, a district nurse will perform their duties away from the doctor’s surgery however, it is usual that they are organised by the GP services (although confusingly, that is not always the case) with house-bound patients, although work can take place in local healthcare centres. Whoever organises them, the District nurses usually have a very high level of autonomy, more so than nurses who work in multidisciplinary hospital teams.

Who do district nurses treat?

While a district nurse’s patients will often be elderly, there is no restriction when it comes to the age of those in need of care. Suffering from a wide range of conditions, some patients may have recently been discharged from hospital, while others may have physical disabilities or terminal illness.

What are District nurse responsibilities?

The role of a district nurse is to provide care to housebound patients by performing frquent home visits. These visits may be once a day or more depending on the level of care required. As these visits take place away from a hospital, it is the duty of a district nurse to perform thorough risk assessments upon every visit, ensuring the safety of both themselves and the patient. During these home visits, a district nurse has a number of responsibilities, including wound management, medication support, rehabilitation assistance and catheter care. A district nurse should also identify any key healthcare needs. In doing so, the district nurse can act as a teacher, imparting knowledge on the varying aspects of healthcare.

What is a community nurse?

Delivering care to the elderly, disabled and vulnerable patients who are unable to travel to a hospital or doctor’s surgery, community nurses are registered nurses who have undertaken degree level training as a specialist practitioner. This course focuses on four key aspects of nursing including clinical nursing, care and programme management, clinical practice development and clinical practice leadership.

Community nurse roles and responsibilities

A community nurse is responsible for performing many of the same duties as a district nurse. These include basic care (checking temperature, blood pressure and breathing), wound management, administering injections, setting up intravenous drips and assisting doctors with examinations and medical procedures.

Community-based nurses are also able to provide vital information to clients, their families and carer/s, much in the same way as district nurses, while emergency support may also be required in cases when a patient is suffering cardiac arrest or a stroke. This demonstrates the many hats a community nurse must don in their line of care.

So what is the difference between community and district nurses?

In recent times, the terms district and community have become interchangeable as a way of describing areas of villages, towns and cities, meaning that there may be no difference between community and district nurses at all.

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