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The impact of staffing shortages on medical errors

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

It’s certainly no secret that there is a crisis in the healthcare industry. Hospitals, nursing homes and medical practices are struggling to find direct care staff across the United States.

Unfortunately, the lack of adequate staffing is causing harm to patients.

Why nurses are leaving the profession

In 2021, the nursing profession lost 100,000 people. Another 600,000 are expected to leave over the next few years. There are several reasons why nurses are leaving, such as:

  • Burnout
  • Long shifts
  • Lack of support from management
  • Decrease in job satisfaction
  • Retirement of older nurses

So, what does this mean for patients?

Medical errors can range from medication to surgical mistakes and have severe consequences for patients. The lack of nursing staff only exacerbates the problem. When nurses are overworked and understaffed, they are more likely to make mistakes

A higher patient-to-nurse ratio means that healthcare staff aren’t able to provide patients with the care they need. Burnout, stress and fatigue mean errors such as administering the wrong medication, missing critical changes in a patient’s condition, and increased patient falls. 

Furthermore, a high staff turnover can lead to new, inexperienced nurses lacking the knowledge to handle complex medical situations.

Addressing the shortage is challenging and needs to include a multifaceted approach, including:

  • Increase funding for nursing education
  • Better support for nurses’ mental health
  • Improved working conditions
  • Use of technology to help mitigate the effects of the nursing shortage

Still, these changes take time, and patients are vulnerable and at risk. Medical errors can lead to problems such as worsening health conditions or even death. If a nursing shortage caused harm to you or a loved one, you may have the grounds for a medical malpractice suit.