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How Are Medical Malpractice and Hospital Understaffing Linked?

Posted on : July 31, 2019

The last thing most people who are ill or injured expect when they check into a hospital is to be made worse by the very establishment they needed help from. When this happens to people who are especially vulnerable, it can be truly surprising. Here’s what you should know about the link between hospital understaffing and medical negligence, and how to get help if you or someone you love was harmed at an understaffed hospital. 

The Problem with Understaffing in Hospitals

The facts surrounding the lack of adequate staffing in hospitals are alarming. Two surveys in Michigan and Massachusetts revealed that only 15% of nurses believe that patient care was not compromised due to hospital understaffing. A quarter of nurses reported that they knew of at least one patient who died from negligence that could be directly attributed to short-staffing. 

Understaffing Causes Injury 

Understaffing often results in critical consequences for patients and their family members. Common outcomes of the lack of adequate staffing in hospitals include but are not limited to: 

  • Medication errors 
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Infection
  • Sepsis (infection of the blood)
  • Falls resulting from lack of supervision
  • Overdose 
  • Coma
  • Death

Medical errors kill an astounding quarter of a million people every year and are the third leading cause of death in America. Most cases of injury caused by medical negligence are considered “never events,” meaning that these events should have been completely preventable. 

How to Prove Medical Neglect 

To prove a case of medical neglect, you must be able to establish that the doctor who treated you owed you a duty of care that was breached. If a doctor-patient relationship was never established, for example, you may never have been owed a duty of care. Then, you must be able to prove that you were injured as a result of the breach and that you suffered damages as a result. If you didn’t incur any damages, your case may not be compensable even if a doctor legitimately did breach their duty of care to you. 

When Should You Call a Personal Injury Attorney?

Don’t hesitate to contact an injury lawyer after you or someone you love was hurt at a hospital that didn’t have enough staff. You may be eligible for financial compensation for the damages you incurred as a result of medical negligence. At Appalachian Injury Law, we know that being injured by medical malpractice is a devastating experience and you can trust that we’ll handle your case with care. 


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