Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

How does understaffing affect hospitals?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Hospitals all across the nation are facing a major issue: understaffing. Understaffing is an issue that afflicts many hospitals. Back in 2001, the nursing shortage was supposedly “going into crisis” as the population continued to expand.

It naturally leads to a situation where a small number of people must take care of a large number of patients. Unfortunately, this puts everyone involved in jeopardy.

Burnout due to overworking

The Guardian examines the negative impact of understaffed hospitals with overworked nurses. Overworked nurses are a symptom directly and irrefutably tied with understaffing. When a hospital does not have enough staff to rotate through shifts, nurses end up taking on grueling shifts of 12, 16, 18 hours or even more. Some nurses even report simply taking “short rests” of several hours in the staff lounge and then starting their next shift.

Ties to patient safety risk

Needless to say, this leads to a high rate of burnout, along with physical and mental distress on the nursing staff. On top of that, it also puts the patients at risk. It is simply impossible to continue working at peak performance after such long shifts.

The increase in a nurse’s shift length also increases the chance of a mistake happening. Nurses may miss the signs of an issue they could have caught in early stages. They might mix up medication between patients. They might misremember a crucial allergy. They may even forget to check on patients entirely.

Needless to say, this can lead to crimes of negligence and hospital errors that can cost a life. If you are facing such a condition, you may wish to seek legal aid about what to do next.

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