Hospitals have been through a lot since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most prominent issues currently being faced in the healthcare industry is the nursing shortage and subsequent burnout of remaining hospital staff. While the issue is often taken at face value, the actual consequences of the phenomenon are much more grave. Soloff & Zervanos, P.C. is a legal firm based in eastern Pennsylvania that is here to explore how nurse burnouts and shortages following the coronavirus pandemic can lead to serious cases of medical malpractice.
In a recent op-ed, Kyle Sammin of RealClearWire explores how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania perfectly illustrates the floating sentiments of understaffed hospitals throughout the United States of America. There are shortages of nearly everything, from oil to children’s toys. But in no other industry sector is this more prevalent than in healthcare. For years, the numbers of nurses needed in the labor force have continually risen, demanding more hands on deck for healthcare facilities in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic was simply the tipping point. With nurses feeling underpaid and without proper benefits amidst the growing number of patients in their hospitals every day, many nurses called it quits while the demand for them kept growing. Nurses have had to deal with many problems, including exposure to the novel virus and unruly patients due to the overflowing nature of current hospital capacities. The concerns for health-related vulnerabilities were especially present in the older generations of nurses, who have quit en masse after previously deciding to stay in the workforce longer to support their retirement funds.
As nurses quit or passed away due to the virus, Pennsylvania hospitals felt the pressure. As a result of the large population of the state and its proximity to other heavily populated areas like the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York, Philadelphia and other eastern portions of the state have had a particularly difficult time dealing with the pandemic. Nurse Bill Engle was quoted, stating that they are “giving safe care… but the margin for error is getting slimmer and slimmer, and nurses are getting more burnt out.”
Nationwide burnout is a serious problem for nurses and patients alike. Studies show that as nurses are overworked and fatigued, their likelihood for error becomes greater. This is a problem when a patient is on the receiving end of negligent medical care, leading to grand impacts on their wellbeing. One misstep by a burnt-out nurse could spell disaster, causing a rise in medication errors, malpractice, negligence, abuse, and failures to diagnose.
The cases of medical malpractice that happen as a result of nurse shortages and burnout can be severe. This phenomenon is even commonplace in nursing homes, where a lack of staff has led to an increased number of cases of elder abuse. To contact a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., please call 215-929-7216 or click here for a free consultation from experienced and passionate lawyers.