Hospital negligence

Nurse Shortage Putting Patients In Danger

January 8, 2018 by James McHugh, Jr.
Hospital Negligence Lawyers

Nurses are an incredibly important part of a patient’s care. Nurses generally spend more time with patients than doctors and perform many important medical duties like administering medication. Nurses are most effective when a certain nurse to patient ratio is in place; therefore, when nurses have too many patients to attend to, they are more likely to make mistakes that put patients at risk. Unfortunately for patients, hospitals across America are facing a nurse shortage.

A Growing Problem

The field of nursing has been growing for some time, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by 2024 there will be nearly 450,000 new nursing jobs and more than an estimated one million vacancies. To make matters worse, the BLS also estimates that more than 700,000 nurses will leave the workforce by 2024.

Coping with vacancies will be difficult for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Many facilities already have a high nurse to patient ratio to help save on their bottom line, so vacancies will continue to compound the problem.

Nurse To Patient Ratios

A nurse to patient ratio refers to the number of nurses provided to patients in a given healthcare setting. Nurse to patient ratios vary widely based on the specialty of medicine. For example, emergency nurses have very different demands from hospice nurses. While there are industry standards for nurse to patient ratios in every specialty, hospitals should closely monitor the performance of their nurses to make sure patients are being taken care of.

When the nurse to patient ratio is too high, it can create a dangerous environment for patients. According to a study published the Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, nurses struggling with too many patients make a variety of mistakes. Researchers looked at nurses in a hospital emergency room and discovered nearly 47% made medication errors due to high nurse to patient ratios.

Hospital Responsibility

Regardless of vacancies, hospitals and healthcare facilities are responsible for the wellbeing of their patients. If a hospital doesn’t employ enough nurses, and that lack of staff leads to medical errors, patients can hold the hospital accountable through filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Hospital Negligence Lawyers

There is ample amount of clinical evidence to support the benefits of low nurse to patient ratios. Despite this, many hospitals employ fewer nurses to increase profits at the risk of harming patients. If you suffered a medical mistake at a Philadelphia hospital, contact Lopez McHugh LLP right away. We can obtain your medical records, analyze your situation, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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