When you suffer a serious injury or illness, a trip to the hospital is often necessary to ensure you get the treatment and care you need. We count on hospitals and hospital staff to help us, whether it is in the event of an emergency, or as the result of a scheduled visit. Unfortunately, there are increasing reports that hospitals are understaffed, and as a result patients often do not get the critical care and attention they need.Author/editor code:
Medical malpractice claims have risen to an alarming rate, and these cases involve serious and even life-threatening repercussions. Are hospitals understaffed and does this contribute to an increase in medical malpractice claims? The answer to both questions would appear to be yes.
Critical shortages of nurses and other hospital staff could leave both you and your loved ones vulnerable the next time you need to visit one of these facilities for care.
Reasons Some Hospitals Are Short on Staff
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35.1 million people are treated as an inpatient in hospitals throughout the United States each year, and over 125 million are seen at hospitals each year for outpatient care. The CDC estimates that close to half of the population will visit a hospital at some point over the next year for outpatient or emergency care, and close to 10 percent of the population will require an average five-day hospital stay.
Are hospitals understaffed? According to a 2014 report from Healthline, an online health information resource, the answer is yes. Hospital nurses are both overwhelmed and overworked. Many hospitals require nursing staff to work long shifts for days on end, while at the same time carrying heavy patient loads and assuming much of the responsibility for their patient’s day-to-day care.
According to the Healthline report, nurses report apathetic hospital administrators and a lack of support staff that stretches their already thin resources, while poor working conditions, low pay, and tight hospital budgets result in decreases in the total number of staff a hospital employs. The result is a decrease in the quality of patient care, and an increase in medical malpractice claims.
Types of Mistakes That Result from Understaffing
Medical mistakes caused by understaffed hospitals can mean the difference between life and death for patients. A July 2015 Scientific American article on understaffed hospitals reports that tight hospital budgets have resulted in dangerously high patient-to-nurse ratios. The results of hospital understaffing include reduced quality of care and a greater tendency to make mistakes.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
If you or a loved one suffers an injury as the result of hospital understaffing, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice claim against the hospital personnel who made the negligent error, as well as the hospital itself. Under the New York law, hospitals as well as physicians and staff can be held liable for damages resulting from their negligent and careless actions.
Patients have a right to adequate and appropriate medical care and services. Administrators and hospital directors who authorize hospital understaffing for the sake of saving money show a careless disregard for the law, as well as for the public health, and may be liable for damages through a medical malpractice claim, which may include:
Of course, determining the scope of the damages you have sustained in an instance of medical malpractice, as well as the parties ultimately liable for your injuries or illness, is not a simple task. As such, it is important that you contact a skilled legal professional who can examine the nature of your case, and utilize his or her knowledge of the law to help determine whether or not you are eligible for filing a lawsuit.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury, illness, or medical condition as the result of a negligent medical error related to hospital understaffing, contact our experienced New York medical malpractice lawyers today. At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, our lawyers will provide a free review of your case. We can discuss with you the details of your particular situation, the injuries or medical conditions you suffered as the result of hospital understaffing, and determine the types of damages you may be entitled to.
Our lawyers assist injured people in getting compensation for their injuries and hold responsible parties accountable for their actions by thoroughly investigating claims, using expert testimony, and requesting doctor and hospital records to show that the hospital and its staff were negligent in failing to provide the proper standard of care. When your health is on the line, you need aggressive, effective legal representation. Call or contact us online today.