The New York Times says it all: “When hospitals are understaffed, people die.” Right now, many healthcare facilities struggle to find and retain nurses to help patients. This is largely because of low wages, overpopulated hospitals, and unsafe working conditions.
Understaffed hospitals lead to more than negligent medical errors. They also lead to permanent injuries, fatalities, and subpar medical care. If you or a loved one suffered harm because of an understaffed hospital, you have legal recourse. You can hold the hospital financially accountable through a claim or lawsuit.
Why Are Some Hospitals Understaffed?
BMJ Quality & Safety notes that many hospital staffing shortages are due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many hospitals are bursting at the seams with critically ill patients – and nurses must care for more patients than ever before.
Other reasons for staff shortages include:
An Aging Population
The baby boomers are now the senior boomers. According to Healthline, there will be more than 70 million seniors by 2029. There are simply more elderly people in need of medical care than nurses to treat them. Even baby boomers that were nurses are now retiring, leaving huge employment gaps.
More Accessible Healthcare
Due to affordable healthcare reforms, many people now feel comfortable seeking treatment. This means that healthcare providers are treating more patients than they’re used to.
Working 12-plus-hour shifts, dealing with critically ill patients, and emotional exhaustion have led to one thing: burnout. Once-eager nurses and care providers now dread coming to work. Many have just left the field altogether in search of something less strenuous.
Healthline found startling data in a 2014 survey. At the time, nurses reported that apathetic hospital administrators and a lack of support staff added to a stressful work environment. Coupled with poor working conditions, slashed hospital budgets, and other factors, understaffing in hospitals is a bigger problem now more than ever.
Types of Mistakes That Result From Understaffing
Understaffed hospitals are unable to give patients the personalized care they need. As a result, this leads to:
- Medication errors. A nurse may provide the wrong medication while hurrying to get to the next patient. They might fail to read a patient’s medical chart and administer a medication that contraindicates with pre-existing conditions.
- Poor monitoring. Some patients with critical conditions can take a turn within seconds. If a nurse can’t closely monitor each patient and recognize signs of distress, it could mean the difference between life and death.
- Failing to recognize certain hazards. When trying to care for multiple people at once, a provider might not recognize certain hazards. For instance, a nurse may allow an elderly person to eat by themselves, risking the likelihood of choking.
- Patient falls. In many hospitals, you’ll see the mantra: “Don’t Fall; Call.” However, if nurses don’t respond to calls in time, patients might try to help themselves, leading to falls.
- Undiagnosed conditions. Healthcare providers at understaffed hospitals want to serve as many people as possible. As such, they might quickly diagnose a patient without carefully considering their symptoms and other conditions. Here, someone can suffer from unnecessary treatment or the undiagnosed condition itself.
Who Can Be Liable If I Suffered Harm in an Understaffed Hospital?
Liability in your case depends on who (or what) caused your condition. For instance, if a nurse practitioner didn’t provide adequate care, you could hold them financially accountable.
However, hospitals are responsible for maintaining adequate staff and rendering the best possible treatment. In that sense, the hospital could be financially responsible for your losses.
Malpractice insurance companies are anticipating an influx of claims and lawsuits, the Claims Journal explains. As such, many hospitals are paying 22 percent more for premiums than in previous years. It seems that when considering understaffed hospitals, the pandemic, and other limitations, insurers want to be prepared to pay claims.
You Can Recover these Damages From the Liable Party
If you file a medical malpractice case, compensation should account for your past, present, and future damages. Examples include:
It’s important to know that pursuing compensation via a lawsuit comes with certain deadlines. For instance, if you live in New York, you generally have two years and six months to file your lawsuit, per CVP § 214-A.
While some factors may extend this period, you should consider taking legal action as soon as possible.
Should I Partner with a Lawyer on My Medical Malpractice Case?
Pursuing compensation in a medical malpractice case isn’t easy. We encourage you to consider legal representation if you suffered harm from a negligent care facility. With our help, we can file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses.
Other reasons to consider partnering with us include:
- Our co-founder, Richard S. Jaffe, is a traumatic brain injury specialist and an EMT-CC. He knows an understaffed hospital when he sees one. He can use this insight to build and support your case.
- We’ve recovered millions for medical malpractice claimants, including a high six-figure settlement for a brain bleed patient.
- We work on contingency, so you don’t have to worry about upfront costs. Our attorney’s fees come from your case’s settlement or court award.
When you partner with our team, you get more than a medical malpractice attorney; you get your lawyer’s cell phone number, years of experience, and commitment to your case’s success.
Begin Your Free Case Review with the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP
You don’t have to navigate the legal landscape alone. If you or a loved one suffered harm because of an understaffed hospital, our lawyers are ready to help. Using our combined 100 years of experience, we will file your claim, investigate your condition, and negotiate for what you need.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900