Despite the serious consequences of medical mistakes, they continue to occur with alarming frequency. Yet another news story points to internal self-reporting by neonatal and obstetrics nurses. These reports paint a disturbing picture of well-intentioned but sloppy mistakes.
The documents involved in this latest disclosure consist of 84 internal workload reports from nurses. The 84 reports all come from a short, four-month period. They consistently point to workload and staffing deficiencies as a source of nurse neglect and negligence.
Three fourths of the reports complained about specific situations in which the neonatal ward did not have enough nurses on duty to prevent care problems. Nurses admitted that they sometimes made medication errors, failed to properly record vital signs, and caused other problems.
Half of the complaints reported that nurses were working long double shifts, missing breaks, and generally feeling extremely exhausted. Nurses also complained that the ward was overcrowded with patients, further diminishing care safety.
Exhaustion and high patient loads can easily result in nurses and other staff making dangerous mistakes. In many medical situations, a fast response is critical for effective treatment. Overworked nurses run the risk of missing the window of opportunity to prevent serious injuries.
This report is a concerning illustration of medical malpractice problems. Hospitals should never allow staffing situations to result in preventable and unnecessary injuries.
Source: CBC News, “Overworked nurses report medical errors,” Oct. 9, 2012