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Overworked Medical Professionals Put Wichita Patients At Risk

Kansas medical malpractice attorneyWe are in the midst of a significant nursing shortage that impacts the entire healthcare industry. Since nurses are functionally the backbone of the medical industry, doing a great deal of the paperwork and patient interaction needed, any problem that hurts their ability to safely do their job compromises the entire system.

Shortages introduce problems to the work of nurses in a variety of ways, many of which are related to long hours and improper oversight.

A Nurse’s Perspective

The blog A Nurse’s World has an article that looks at ways that a lack of staff in nursing endangers patients. The author notes that nurses in understaffed departments, like the emergency room, can routinely expect shifts that exceed twelve hours, which leads to fatigue. This fatigue then leads to mistakes, like giving patients the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage of the right medicine. Higher rates of overtime are also presented in the article as a cause of higher infection rates and higher rates of negligence.

Having an insufficient number of nurses on staff at a time also leads to less time spent with each patient, and a lower chance that a nurse will be available to respond quickly when situations demand their attention. This is most detrimental in failure to rescue situations, where a patient enters a critical state and is not aided quickly enough to save his or her life because no nurses are immediately available. Even the obvious solution, hiring more nurses, is causing problems – new nurses entering the field are facing an environment where there are not enough experienced nurses to supervise them, and as a result, they make a higher amount of simple mistakes based on their relative inexperience.

Modern Research

Earlier this year, research data was released out of Finland which studied the daily workloads of nurses and tracked employee safety over the span of a year. It was the first such study to track incidents and hours on a daily basis, which was aimed at drawing a more conclusive understanding of the relationship between overworked nurses and patient safety. Becker’s Hospital Review provided a brief on the paper, which indicated a 43 percent increase in patient mortality when the workload placed on nurses exceeded optimal levels. As workloads dropped below optimal levels and nurses had more time to spend with each patient, the rate of safety incidents decreased by 25 percent.

Nurses can be expected to make occasional mistakes, like anyone else, but the odds of these mistakes occurring and injuring patients increase when hospitals do not provide adequate staffing and oversight. When situations grow more dangerous, patients suffer medical malpractice and higher rates of mortality. If you have been the victim of improper care, contact us today to learn how we can help.

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