Understaffed hospitals have been a major issue in recent years. Because of the high demand but low supply of nurses, some nurses work shifts as long as 16-hours and take care of 10 patients at a time. With this heavy workload each day, nurses become easily fatigued and overworked. Just this week, a man from Ohio is suing the hospital because his wife, who worked as a nurse at that hospital, was allegedly ‘worked to death’. According to the CNN news article, the man’s wife was killed in a car accident while driving home after a 12-hour shift at the hospital.
Now that may be a stretch to hold a hospital responsible for the death of someone driving home and there could be a workers compensation exclusion as well, but it raises a good question about hospital staffing.
According to National Nurses United, staff shortages and overextended shifts for nurses are a nationwide issue.
What does this mean for patient care and patient safety?
Overworked nurses are more likely to make a mistake that can harm patients in their care. We’ve seen it countless times in the news. It has gotten to the point where nurses start ignoring alarms from medical devices used by hospital patients. At the end of the day, patients are hurt because of tired nurses and tired doctors.