The never-ending onslaught of patients has left many doctors, nurses and organizations stretched beyond the breaking point. This burnout has led to staff leaving in droves and a vacuum for qualified people to replace them. This, in turn, cascades down to patients just trying to get medical care to realize that they are not getting the treatment they need or deserve. This type of negligence can lead to serious harm or death.
Steps to better address patient care
Despite the current circumstances, hospitals, clinics, and facilities must fulfill their Hippocratic oath to do no harm. Crucial but straightforward steps for doing this include:
New staff training: Much can be learned by doing, but medical staff must undergo training to understand how the hospital, clinic or health center properly serves patients. Working with an experienced staff member can show new hires how the department or facility functions.
Adequate staffing: Administrations face an uphill battle in staffing, but that is no excuse for adequately staffing shifts at a healthcare facility. While there may be concerns about avoiding burnout or the cost of overstaffing, patients deserve the best possible health care, which cannot happen when there is not enough staff to look after them.
It can lead to such problems as:
- Emergency room mistakes involving initial diagnosis or delays due to overwork or lack of staff causes additional injury or death.
- Hospitalists mistakes can involve misinterpretation of lab reports, premature discharge, medication errors, or other actions that cause harm.
- Surgeons may be underqualified to do a particular procedure or overworked, leading them to make mistakes.
- Others like administrators, staff or even janitors need to be conscientious in their work to avoid administrative errors, not correctly operating equipment, or even keeping facilities safe from slip, trip and fall hazards.
Malpractice injuries are preventable
The circumstances of a medical error will vary and may not even be evident until later. Nevertheless, patients can suffer severe or permanent harm due to human error or administrative indifference. Victims and their loved ones can hold health care groups accountable for action or inaction. Damages can involve compensation for time out of work, potential future earnings and related expenses.