Hospitals across the nation have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure their employees are properly trained to meet patient’s needs. Unfortunately, understaffing and limited funding leads to a hospital staff that is overworked and under-trained. The results can be devastating.
Statistics reveal that more than 1,700 patients have died and nearly 9,500 have been injured because of hospital and nursing errors. Nurses have more patient interaction than doctors, so they are responsible for their nursing duties in addition to communicating a patient’s condition with the doctor. A majority of nursing errors are caused by careless or medical negligence resulting from:
- Insufficient training
Dangerous Cost-Saving Hospital Tactics
Because they battle constant funding cuts, many hospitals now rely on machines to monitor patients’ vital signs. If a nurse does not hear an alarm from a monitoring machine, he or she cannot perform the appropriate care and potentially lifesaving action.
Nursing aides have also been hired to assist nurses. However at an average salary of $9 per hour, most aides are students or do not even possess a high school diploma. When these aids are needed to fulfill a higher-paid nurse’s duties, many do not have the expertise. Other cost-saving hospital techniques allow housekeeping staff to perform duties like dispensing medicine, which can lead to a number of mistakes.
Examples of Nursing Errors
Some common types of nursing and hospital errors include:
- Miscommunication between a nurse and doctor
- Miscommunication between a nurse and other department
- Failure to monitor a patient’s condition
- Anesthesia errors
- Failure to respond to a crisis or treat a patient in a timely manner
- Improper use of a medical device
- Failure to identify and/or treat infections
- Performing procedures they are not trained to do
- Pharmaceutical injuries, such as administering the wrong dose or incorrect medication
The Nursing Shortage
Across the United States, there is a significant nursing shortage. A study by the University of Pennsylvania revealed that nurses who worked more than 12.5 hours a single shift were three times more likely to make a patient error than nurses who worked up to 8.5 hours.
The study revealed that 393 nurses worked more than 5,000 shifts. The most common mistakes made were:
- Errors involving medications (58 percent)
- Procedural errors (18 percent)
- Chart-related mistakes (12 percent)
- Transcription errors (7 percent)
Nationwide, the number of nursing errors among hospitals has constantly risen over the last five years. With hospitals still significantly under-funded, that number is only expected to increase.
A Nurse’s Responsibility
Like doctors, nurses have a responsibility to do no harm. When nurses are negligent in that duty, patients consequently suffer. Sometimes those injuries are minor, sometimes they are fatal. Nursing negligence is completely avoidable, yet all too common in today’s hospitals and clinics. Every year thousands of patients suffer because of a nurse’s failure to follow acceptable practices, orders and standards of care.