A recent study has linked poor nurse staffing levels to higher instances of medical malpractice. The study found that the pressures caused by understaffing can create a toxic work environment that makes nursing negligence more likely. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that stress coupled with a lack of teamwork and administrative support can distract nurses from the important task of providing good care to patients.
“Stress builds up and builds up and builds up until the giver of care just detaches,” said one of the study authors. “All of a sudden they are doing work, but they are not even cognizant of what they are doing, they are so stressed.” They may forget to wash their hands.”
Reducing nursing negligence is an important step in preventing the most serious medical malpractice injuries. Most people associate medical malpractice with surgical errors or misdiagnosed cancers, but nurses also play a vital role in providing care to patients. It is often the duty of nurses to monitor and provide medication, among other things. The amount of contact that a nurse has with a patient means that nurses can also cause patient infections if they do not follow the proper disinfection procedures.
“It is costing hospitals more money not to spend money on nursing,” another study author said, noting that insurers often refuse to reimburse hospitals for the costs associated with treating infections that could have been prevented through better care.
We will discuss more details of the report and researcher recommendations in our next post.