The New York Times published an interesting op-ed recently by an oncology nurse at a well known hospital. The premise: that understaffing in hospitals is a major problem that leads to completely preventable injuries and death.
The article may be found here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/17/when-no-one-is-on-call/?_r=0
In essence, this article confirms what we already know and see nearly every day, that is that most hospital and nursing home accidents or incidents are preventable. Whether caused by over-work, understaffing, lack of concern or simply failure to pay attention, studies have shown that an increase in the number of available staff could decrease the number of injuries, infections and deaths by more than 100,000 patients per year!
We wish the numbers were simply some abstract thing, but we see them every day in our practice. Whether from a patient who was given an overdose of medication, a child whose aging mother developed bed sores while attempting to “recover” from surgery, or a family member of someone who was assaulted at the hospital, the common denominator is a lack of care or attention to detail . It is encouraging to see commentary coming from the medical community shining a light on that which we already know.