Can an Inadequate Number of Nursing Staff Cause Medical Malpractice?

medical professionals

There are many things that contribute to how well a patient fares in a hospital, surgical center, birthing center or another medical facility. One of the important factors is the number of nurses on staff. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published data on the hospital nurse shortage and the correlation between the number of nurses on staff and patient mortality.

The JAMA study concluded that in hospitals with a high ratio of patients per nurse, surgical patients were at a higher risk of dying within 30 days and failure to rescue events, and nurses are more likely to experience job burnout.

How Do Medical Errors Occur?

An insufficient number of nurses on staff can contribute to medical errors. Insufficient nurse staffing can lead to break downs in communication among staff, confusion, rushing to complete duties, stress and fatigue, and a lack of time to spend with patients. These can result in:

  • Inadequate patient monitoring;
  • Medication errors;
  • Failure to properly record patient information;
  • Lack of responsiveness to patient needs, even in emergency situations.

The Dangers of Insufficient Nurse-to-Patient Ratios

When nurse-to-patient ratios are insufficient, preventable medical errors can and do occur. These medical errors not only lead to instances of patient harm, but can even cause fatal injuries.

According to the JAMA study, for each additional patient that a nurse was responsible for monitoring, the patient’s risk of dying within 30 days of admission increased by seven percent. The study said that doctors agreed that inadequate nurse staffing is a major obstacle to delivering high quality health care.

High nurse-to-patient ratios are less than ideal for the nurses, too. When nurses face unrealistic workloads and are tasked with attending to more patients than they can realistically handle, their chances of experiencing job burnout increase by 23 percent, and increases the odds of job dissatisfaction by 15 percent.

How to Ensure the Correct Amount of Nurses

Unfortunately, hospitalsnursing home facilities, and other medical facilities have lots of leeway in determining what an adequate nursing staff should be at their facility. While some medical facilities do a good job at this, others do not. Many medical malpractice issues are rooted in systemic problems. Having an inadequate number of nurses on staff is a systemic problem caused by hospital administrators trying to save money on salaries or not paying adequate salaries to retain staff.

As an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney, Kelley J. Johnson takes into consideration all factors that may have contributed to a preventable medical error. If an inadequate number of nurses on staff may have contributed to a medical error that leads to patient harm, the patient, or his or her family, should consult with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney about your legal rights.

An Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You

Suffering harm as a result of a high nurse-to-patient ratio within a medical facility in Indiana is unacceptable. If you suspect that you have been the victim of a medical error, do not hesitate to contact an experienced and passionate Indiana medical malpractice attorney. At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we will provide a free review of your injury and explain your legal options. If we believe that you have a case, we can help you to file your medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for the harm that you have suffered. To learn more, call us today to schedule your case consultation at 317-638-3472.

Injured patients and their families need solid legal guidance after a serious medical error. At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we listen attentively to our clients’ questions and concerns. Our goal is to help them move forward after devastating, even fatal medical errors.