Hospital errors caused by exhausted, overworked nurses

Changes in nursing duties and staff assignments may contribute to a rising number of hospital errors.

Patients who have to visit the hospital have every reason to believe they can trust the medical staff to provide outstanding care without anything going wrong. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While there are many quality hospitals in New Mexico and throughout the country, others have a track record that is less than stellar. In some scenarios, competent doctors and nurses are being stretched thin by evolving industry trends that make hospital staff work harder with less relief. This often results in stressed out and overworked nurses who can make serious mistakes simply because they are exhausted.

According to CNN, preventable medical mistakes are responsible for more than 250,000 patient deaths in the United States every year, as well as countless injuries. Medical errors are now known as the third leading cause of fatalities in the nation. When healthcare staff is forced to do more work with a skeleton crew, these fatalities and injuries can only be expected to rise.

Extra work, understaffing the cause of many nursing errors

Numerous hospitals across the country have cut back on their nursing staff, while requiring those still on the floor to work unreasonable hours under nearly inhumane conditions, states The Nation. Some nurses are now being expected to care for up to seven patients in the intensive care unit when previously the patient-to-nurse ratio was two-to-one. Another difficulty facing patients in such serious condition is that they often require care around the clock - an impossibility when one nurse has to watch out for so many.

Additionally, many nurses are forced to work entire shifts without going to lunch or even being able to go to the restroom. As can be expected, this results in nurses who suffer from stress, anxiety and exhaustion. Any one of these conditions can cause a competent nurse to make a serious mistake. For example, patients who are entrusted to the care of overworked nurses face a 7 percent chance of developing pneumonia and a 53 percent chance of respiratory failure while in the hospital.

Other scenarios resulting from understaffed and overworked nursing staff can include:

  • Backed up emergency rooms in hospitals that are overcrowded, resulting in seriously ill or injured patients not getting timely care
  • Infections when nurses who are too busy fail to wash their hands
  • Medication mistakes, improper tubing and other errors when nurses are fatigued

Additionally, many nurses are required to undertake other tasks that were previously left to aides or janitors, such as taking out the garbage or cleaning medical equipment. This takes up valuable time that could be spent on patient care instead.

Contacting an attorney

New Mexico residents should not have to sacrifice quality care in a hospital. If you or a loved one was harmed as a result of your medical team being overworked or understaffed, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

Keywords: medical, malpractice, injury, hospital