Understaffing is a common theme in healthcare, highlighted by the current coronavirus pandemic. This has been an ongoing problem for decades, with medical professionals continuously sounding the alarm. However, with their warnings seemingly falling on deaf ears, a healthcare system is only as strong as its weakest links.
Sick people don’t stop coming to the hospital when they need help. However, without proper staffing, patients experience the risk of sub-par care. Medical malpractice becomes a real-life liability, with the majority of blame placed on the nurses and medical professionals on the front lines, rather than those at the top who created the problem in the first place.
When nurses need care, who cares for patients?
There has been another emergency emerging from the shortage of nursing staff that is not as simple as having too few nurses covering too many patients. That would suggest that only patient care is at risk. The truth is that inattention to the mental health of nurses only causes widespread tragedy. Alleviating that burden is key to improving the quality of care you receive on their watch.
A recent poll conducted by the American Nurses Association showed that 68% of nurses fear working when shifts are understaffed. The inability or unwillingness of hospitals to ensure that each shift has a reasonable nurse to patient ratio is directly linked to increased risk of nurses experiencing:
- Insufficient resource trauma
- Mental breakdowns
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Other forms of trauma
Nurses constantly face situations where they are forced to make difficult treatment decisions for patients, simply because there are not enough resources to go around. If a nurse has several patients who all require constant care, and they become spread too thin, exhaustion and distraction can lead to mistakes. It is simply human nature at the most basic level.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began overpowering the medical system, things have only become worse. Nurses are overwhelmed and unable to properly perform their jobs, setting a stage for negligence, which can cause injuries and cost patients their lives.
How fines and penalties affect the safety of medical facilities
Deregulation set up unsafe conditions in assisted living facilities well before the coronavirus pandemic. By lowering fines for facilities that put patients at risk, many nursing homes and other facilities have little incentive to follow the rules. Inspectors flagged several facilities for understaffing or short-staffing, which can play an enormous role in the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes.
Despite these inspections, violations result in lower fines rather than the heavy penalties formerly in place. Knowing they would be forced to pay out substantially more for violations, long-term care facility administrators were incentivized to maintain higher standards for patient safety, which included proper staffing of nurses.
When you or a loved one need medical care, you deserve to receive the highest level of competence the field has to offer. Feeling confident that your loved one is receiving the best care possible is crucial to your own mental wellbeing.
If you or your loved one suffers injury as a result of inadequate nursing care, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC. Our attorneys pursue a claim for pain, suffering and other damages to which you may be entitled. To schedule your free consultation with one of our South Carolina injury attorneys, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood