Nursing error is responsible for killing and injuring thousands of
patients every year due to overwhelmed and inadequately trained
nurses as hospitals sacrifice safety for an improved overhead costs.
The numbers relating to injuries from nursing error have surpassed
10,000 patients over the span of a decade; with almost 2,000 nursing
error related deaths. At least 418 patients have been killed and
1,356 others injured by registered nurses operating infusion pumps,
which regulate medicine flow.
In each of these nursing error cases the nurse either lacked the
training to operate infusion pumps or claimed to be burdened with
too many patients. Wrongful operation of infusion pumps can be done
in several ways, and sometimes nurses punched in the wrong amount of
medicine on the built-in touch pad. For example, an order for 8.7
milligrams of morphine could be entered as 87.0 milligrams. This is
so common that nurses even have a term that relates to these types
of calculation errors, "death by decimal."
Because hospitals are so understaffed, nursing error is usually the
product of overworked nurses. To compensate for understaffing,
hospitals often rely on machines with warning alarms to help monitor
patients' vital signs. At least 216 patient deaths and 429 injuries
by nursing error have occurred in hospitals where registered nurses
failed to hear alarms built into lifesaving equipment, such as
respirators and blood-oxygen monitors. One patient died while being
overlooked of a heart attack even though a respiratory alarm
sounded. A sole nurse, responsible for the nursing error, assigned
to monitor 10 patients told federal investigators she did not hear
the alarm because she was attending to another patient in distress.
Nursing error has occurred in at least 119 patient deaths and 564
injuries due to unlicensed, unregulated nurse aides. This is an
additional toll not included in the statistics for registered
nurses. Earning an average of $9 an hour, aides are used to augment
staffing but sometimes step into the shoes of the higher-paid
registered nurses. Almost a third of nursing staffs consist of
aides, many of who are not required to have high school diplomas.
Cost-saving programs in some hospitals have allowed the housekeeping
staff assigned to clean rooms to take on duty as aides to dispense
Nationally, the number of reported nursing errors within hospitals
has increased in each of the last five years, coinciding with an
economic crisis that has left one of every four hospitals operating
in the red, according to state and federal records.
After decades of spending by hospitals, managed care came in to
change the backdrop of medicine. Hospitals turned to health-care
consultants whose cost-cutting strategies consistently targeted each
hospitals' largest expense, which is nurse staffing.
Nursing error is usually not the nurses fault per se, however
professional healthcare services are responsible for providing
patients with the best possible healthcare available, absent of
nursing error. If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing
error and wish to seek compensation for your troubles and distress,
contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today.
Contact us by
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