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Knoxville Medical Malpractice Attorney > Blog > General > Failure To Monitor A Patient – When A Lapse In Supervision Becomes Medical Malpractice

Failure To Monitor A Patient – When A Lapse In Supervision Becomes Medical Malpractice


A significant number of medical errors leading to malpractice claims involve a “failure to monitor” by the health care provider. Failure to monitor covers any action that can be perceived as a healthcare provider neglecting to watch over a patient. Monitoring a patient’s condition, observing the patient for potential complications, and responding quickly to potential problems are all part of the standard of care a doctor or provider owes to their patient.

Unfortunately, complications do happen, and patients suffer medical injuries, as a result of healthcare providers failing to adhere to this basic duty of care. In Tennessee, over 100 “failure to monitor” claims are filed each year, resulting in about $16 million in payouts to injured patients or their families.

“Failure to Monitor” Cases Often Arise in Several Possible Scenarios:

  1. After anesthesia has been administered. Once any level of anesthesia has been administered, doctors and healthcare staff must observe the patient’s vital signs for any signs of irregularities. Failure to do so can lead to complications that can be serious or even deadly.
  2. During childbirth. A woman’s labor during childbirth can last several hours or even span across two days. During this process, the mother must be carefully monitored to maintain the health of her and her child. Vital signs must be monitored, her cervix is checked regularly, and the child’s heart rate is tracked with a fetal heart rate monitor. During labor, a woman is in a form of distress and helplessness, trusting the doctor and nurses to make sure everything is OK. Negligent monitoring by staff can lead to worrisome or even disastrous complications. Some complications can lead to long-term health consequences for the mother and/or her child. In a worst-case scenario, death can even occur.
  3. During and after surgery. Patients must be monitored during surgery to ensure steady blood pressure, heartbeat, and oxygen. All vital signs must be properly maintained not only for a successful surgery but to avoid issues and medical injury to the patient. After surgery, the patient must continue to be monitored to avoid potential complications, some of which can be dangerous or life threatening – such as blood clots, internal bleeding, or oxygen deprivation.
  4. Anytime a patient is under observation in a hospital setting. If the patient is admitted for any reason, it is the duty of the healthcare provider that their care is maintained and that all precautions are taken to avoid problems. Even if the patient’s basis for admission is seemingly minor, a failure to monitor properly can lead to injury and claims of malpractice.

To meet the requirements for a Health Care Liability Claim in Tennessee, a patient or their family must show there was a duty of the defendant to monitor the patient, and that they breached their duty. Additionally, they must show the defendant’s breach led directly to the patient’s injury. Damages are usually proven through the patient’s medical records and expenses, and witness testimony. Often in these cases, there will be long-term health effects and rehabilitation involved. This brings extra expense and mental anguish to the patients that trusted their care to the doctor or hospital staff.

Contact Our Knoxville, Tennessee Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today For an Evaluation of Your Claim 

Suffering a medical injury or complication due to another’s negligence is a traumatic and painful event in every sense. In these situations you are entitled, at the very least, to compensation for what you’ve been through. Our legal team at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, has helped many in your or your family’s situation. Contact our Knoxville medical malpractice lawyers today for help.



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