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Overworked nurses can lead to patient safety issues

High turnover rates and low employee satisfaction has led to many hospitals struggling to fill vacant nursing and other health care positions. While this is not good news, what's worse is that a new study found that unfilled positions in hospitals are threatening patient care. 

A recent study found that hospital staff members who are overworked due to unfilled positions do not pay as much attention to patients as they should. Staff who feel burnt out or unahppy in their jobs may be more likely to make mistakes that can be harmful to patients. 

The study found that hospitals have not been able to fill vacant positions due to not having enough qualified candidates to hire, not having experienced nurses and not being able to offer competitive pay to attract more applicants.

The study reported that in addition to health care workers having low morale and being overworked, patients do not feel as taken care of and more medical mistakes occur. This is a very dangerous situation for hospital patients because if nurses are not able to give patients enough attention, they may miss a symptom or side effect of a medication that could lead to serious complications or even death for a patient.

In addition to missing symptoms, nurses who are overworked may be negligent in the care they provide. This puts patients at risk for being injured, getting bed sores, infections and adverse reactions to medication errors. All of these issues pose serious risks to a patient's health.

When medical errors or negligence happens, victims of medical malpractice can take legal action against the staff member responsible for the mistake. Hospitals can also face medical negligence lawsuits, especially if they were aware that unfilled vacancies and overworked hospital staff members posed a risk to patients. Victims of medical malpractice should contact a personal injury or medical malpractice attorney to discuss their specific case.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, "Unfilled vacancies take toll on hospitals, workers," Ilene MacDonald, Aug. 15, 2013

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