There’s no question that the last few years have been rough on health care workers. Many nurses have retired or moved into private practices (away from hospitals), while others have gotten “burn out” and have simply quit or changed careers.
Is it any surprise, then, that patients are feeling the consequences of the pressure on the nurses that remain?
Most nurses believe that staff shortages are causing problems
Over half of all nurses say they’ve personally witnessed patients suffering because there aren’t enough nurses to go around – and 90% of nurses surveyed in recent studies say that the quality of care they can provide has gone down.
To see that in print may be shocking, but it’s not really surprising if you’ve been watching health care industry news. Hospitals have known for a long time that lower patient-to-nurse ratios are the key to preventing medical mistakes and outright patient neglect – but there’s been little interest in giving health care workers the support they need to make that happen.
Even before the current staffing crisis, hospital administrations were reluctant to increase staffing because it cut into their profits. Now that there’s a shortage of actual nurses available (instead of multiple applicants for every available position), hospitals are struggling to keep up with patient care altogether.
What does that mean for patients? The shortages can cause:
- Hurried or abbreviated triage and intake evaluations that miss important issues
- Increased waits for patients to be seen (sometimes for hours) in emergency rooms
- Problems getting patients the medication or treatments they need in a timely manner
- Mistakes caused by being overworked, exhausted or simply stressed out
- Dangerous (or potentially fatal) delays responding to patient call lights and concerns
The reality is that it’s not great to be in a hospital right now for any reason, whether you work there or you’re a patient – but patients have the most to lose. If you’ve been injured by someone’s medical mistake or your loved one was killed, find out what it takes to get fair compensation for your losses.