How Nursing Shortages Endanger Idaho Patients
Nurses are consistently overworked and underpaid. They are subject to long hours and difficult working conditions. This not only makes nurses stressed and prone to patient care errors, but also causes turnover in the nursing industry. Far too many patients face dangerous working conditions that lead to preventable medical errors. It is important that doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities be held responsible for injuries patients suffer as a result of these errors.
Care facilities are legally responsible for errors committed by negligent medical staff. Whether such errors are the result of being overworked, poorly trained, inadequately supervised, or simply overwhelmed, patients are entitled to be compensated for their injuries and losses. Care facilities must be held accountable for providing patients with well-trained nurses who are able to provide the level of professional care necessary to meet their needs.
The Many Ways in Which Nursing Conditions and Shortages Lead to Preventable Medical Errors
Nursing Uniforms examined the many specific problems in patient care that can occur when nurses are subjected to staffing shortages or poor working conditions. One is the increased rate of infections. Hospital-acquired infections are a significant health risk for any patient in an inpatient setting. Nursing Uniforms reports that rates of infection, skin ulcers, and urinary tract infections associated with catheters all increase with higher levels of nursing overtime hours. These statistics reflect the simple reality that infections and skin ulcers require constant monitoring and consistent preventative measures in order to be effectively treated and prevented. Overworked nurses have less time to devote to preventative tasks.
Overworked nurses are also more likely to make medication errors and other lapses in critical care needs. These mistakes can be fatal. These errors can also be made by inexperienced nursing staff members who do not have adequate training or supervision. Working conditions can be especially stressful in critical care units, such as the intensive care unit or emergency department. Psychiatric units can also present unique challenges that quickly become exhausting. Nurses in these situations can become tired and overworked more easily than nurses in less demanding positions. This can make them more prone to errors in medication, judgment, and care protocols.
Eventually, stressful working conditions cause many nurses to leave their positions (or even leave the nursing field altogether). This can leave a unit or facility understaffed until replacement nursing staff members can be hired. It also requires more training of new staff members, and exposes patients to additional risks of error during these training periods. Turnover and training of new nursing staff is a constant problem for care facilities. Unfortunately, it is often patients who suffer the ill effects of understaffing, or inadequate training or supervision. Ultimately, care facilities are legally responsible for compensating patients for injuries sustained through nursing staff errors.
When errors occur, a care facility faces the legal and public relations consequences of a medical malpractice lawsuit. An Idaho hospital injuries attorney can help injured patients access compensation for their financial losses. Malpractice claims also provide an important deterrent that discourages care facilities from subjecting other patients to such negligence in the future.