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Hospital Staffing Issues and Overworked Nurses Put Patients at Risk

Steinberg overworked doctor

Nurses Who Work Overtime Could Put Patient Care At Risk and Contribute to Increase in Hospital Errors

In 2016, Johns Hopkins University researchers concluded that medical errors kill more than 250,000 people a year, making it the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. While there are many quality health care systems in Michigan to acknowledge, some facilities are struggling to keep up with evolving industry trends, steep rise in patient numbers, and reduced staffing issues that demand more of health care workers. Many health care staff remain committed during these times but not without often expressing feelings of being “burned out” and “exhausted.” When health care employees in charge of patient care are overworked, it can lead to serious mistakes that could hurt or even kill patients.

Tired, Overworked Nurses Admit to Unsafe Patient Loads

All types of health care workers can be overworked, including surgeons, physician assistants, interns, and support staff but we especially see the increase of overtime with nurses. Most Michigan nurses work under a contract limiting mandatory overtime and the number of patients they can be assigned. But at a time when most hospitals and health care facilities are cutting back on nursing staff the expected workload remains bringing patient-to-nurse ratios from two-to-one to at times seven-to-one. As a result of the increased patient load, nurses may be forced to work entire shifts without a break, meal, or even an opportunity to use the restroom. Some may be required to work back-to-back shifts without the time needed to sleep. Many of these hardworking nurses suffer from stress, anxiety and pure exhaustion.

In fact, the Michigan Nurses Association conducted a survey in 2016 and found that half of nurses polled admitted they have an unsafe patient load at least half the time, (41 percent also said management makes adjustments always or most of the time). Other conclusions to this study showed that an alarming 22 percent of nurses are “aware of a patient dying because of short-staffing and unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios,” while 63 percent knew about medication mix-ups, and more than 57 percent were aware of infections or other complications that they blamed on staffing issues.

These survey results are not being ignored. The Lansing State Journal recently reported that Michigan’s House Bills 46294630 and 4631, collectively, “would prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses in most instances, require hospitals to set staffing plans with prescribed nurse-to-patient ratios, and require hospitals to disclose that information.” As of December 18, 2017, these bills are pending in the state Senate. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm will continue to stay abreast of the latest developments in this legislation.

Michigan Malpractice Attorneys

Winning Michigan medical malpractice cases can be difficult. The process is long and Michigan law is typically not favorable to injured plaintiffs. Thankfully, we have been successfully handling Michigan medical malpractice cases for years. That’s why if you have sustained a serious injury due to the medical negligence of a health care professional such as an overworked nurse, call the Michigan malpractice lawyers today at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733), or fill out the Free Case Evaluation form.