Legal experts note a growing concern for medical malpractice instances that result from stressed-out, overworked medical personnel. A heavy workload and long hours can cause anyone to make mistakes, and when nurses make them, they can lead to devastating errors. Negligence and errors in medical treatment have traditionally been attributed mainly to doctors, but with the widespread nursing shortage, more and more malpractice lawsuits involving nurses are being filed.
High Turnover and Overscheduling
A high demand for nurses along with a low supply of skilled job applicants means that many nursing staff members must work standard shifts of 12 hours or double shifts of 16 hours or longer. Often, those overtaxed nurses may be responsible for more patients than they can reasonably or safely handle. This leads to frustration and job burnout, causing many nurses to leave their positions. Hospitals hire replacement nurses, but this can result in issues with senior staff, as they are compelled to continually work with new and inexperienced nurses. A high staff turnover means more patients suffer and medical malpractice errors are more likely to occur.
Negligence and Errors of Overworked Nurses
Many different types of medical malpractice errors occur when nurses are forced to work overtime hours and where the staff is stretched thin. Mistakes in recordkeeping are common and can result in a patient receiving the wrong dosage or the wrong medication. Overly busy nurses may miss symptoms and medication side effects in patients, and they may be negligent in providing proper care. Any of these medical malpractice errors can lead to serious complications for the patient, including adverse reactions to medications, injuries and even death.
Understaffed Hospitals Have Higher Rates of Complications
Research by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the University of Maryland School of Nursing have shown that the grueling work hours of nurses contribute to more medical complications in patients. According to the studies, patients in understaffed hospitals are more likely to suffer urinary tract infections, skin ulcers, pneumonia, shock and cardiac arrest. The rates of these and other medical malpractice errors made by nurses are highest in hospitals where nurses are required to work overtime. Hospitals with a shortage of qualified nurses also have higher death rates that can, at least in part, be attributed to nurses failing to adequately respond to a cardiac arrest rescue.
Making the mistake of checking into a hospital with overworked nurses can mean putting yourself at risk for medical complications, or worse. If you or a loved one has experienced negligence by a nurse that led to a medical complication, you deserve justice. In Salt Lake City, contact the professional attorneys at Rasmussen and Miner to discuss the facts of your medical malpractice case.