You call your doctor’s office and ask for an appointment with your primary care physician. You’re told the wait could be weeks, but you’re offered an appointment with a nurse practitioner instead.
This is a common situation these days. There simply aren’t enough primary care physicians to meet the demands of an aging population. For the most part, nurse practitioners do a great job filling the gaps, and they’re more than competent to handle the usual array of complaints that bring someone into the office for care.
But sometimes a nurse practitioner reaches too far. Physicians go through about a decade of multi-layered training in their field (more so if they’re specialists), while nurse practitioners obtain their degrees in a much shorter period. They simply don’t have the depth and breadth of skill or experience to handle every patient or every issue.
Some frequent mistakes a nurse practitioner may make include:
- Failing to recognize that a patient’s new symptoms are the sign of something serious, not just another flare of their chronic condition
- Failing to properly interpret test results that indicate that a patient needs a referral to a specialist
- Not recognizing that a patient’s condition is deteriorating in time to seek alternative treatments
- Failing to confer with their supervising physician whenever there is doubt about a patient’s condition
Nobody’s perfect, but a nurse practitioner’s mistake has the potential to be devastating. If you were injured or a family member died due to medical malpractice, find out how you can hold the responsible party financially liable for their errors.