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Medical Malpractice Attorney
Does the dearth of qualified nurses lead to medical malpractice? Does the nursing staffing crisis harm hospital patients and long-term care nursing home patients?
Decades ago, hypothetical questions to little girls about what did they want to be when they grew up provoked answers like teacher, nurse, and mommy. Ask girls today and they are likely to respond with geo-thermal physicist, senator, CEO, international investment banker, and eco-entrepreneur.
Women love to have choices and a nursing career is not one of them. In 2002, a study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association that for each additional patient assigned to a nurse, the 30-day patient mortality rate increases by 7 percent and the odds of nurse burnout increased by 23 percent. In 2008, not much has changed except for more nurse burnout from an aging nursing population on the cusp of retirement.
Conversely, when nursing staffing is optimized, there are fewer patient complications, fewer adverse events, shorter lengths of stay, lower mortality, and less medical malpractice.
Unfortunately, the premise of a dashing doctor from Grey’s Anatomy sweeping nurses off their feet is what television fantasies are made of. Poor working conditions drive existing qualified nurses away because there’s more paperwork and regulation and less time to spend with the patients. Nurses are burdened by the sheer volume of patients in their charge, their lack of input in patient care, and how quickly patients must be processed through the system. Nurses do not feel empowered but rather stressed which leads to low morale.
With the nursing shortage, you would think that nurses would be more respected and revered but that’s not the case—R.N.s feel undervalued because of budget cuts and disparaging doctors. The slogan, “safe staffing saves lives” may be just that a PR spin that doesn’t translate to real nursing life. Because of recent hospital restructuring that seems to reflect a lack of awareness on the part of some decision-makers that an adequate quantity of skilled nursing is needed. In many facilities, tasks formerly performed by nurses have in recent years been assigned to less highly trained assistive personnel, with serious effects on patient outcomes leading to medical malpractice.
According to the Institute of Medicine, nursing is a critical factor in determining the quality of care in hospitals and the nature of patient outcomes.
For almost a decade, the nursing shortage crisis has been a growing problem and continues to grow especially as millions of aging baby boomers become eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The weakening U.S. economy has brought a small segment of the population (both genders) back into the nursing training realm but not enough to deal with the expected demand. Decision-makers have to think about nursing and healthcare and create a path of innovation as to how we as a society can educate and retain nurses in order to improve the nurse/patient ratio and provide better long-term medical care. Call now for your free consultation.