Thursday, March 17, 2011

Understaffed Hospitals Mean More Patient Deaths

According to a recent study published in the March 17th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, when hospitals are short nurses, patients have a higher risk of death.

Lead by Jack Needleman, a professor of health services at the University of California Los Angeles’ School of Public Health, the study's researchers examined nearly 200,000 admissions at a large hospital with high staffing goals. The admission time frame included roughly 177,000 shifts of nurses in 43 units at the hospital.

Needleman and the other authors of the study found that patient mortality rose by 2 percent when hospital units were understaffed. In addition, patients admitted to the hospital for the average three nursing shifts had a 6 percent greater risk of mortality when all three shifts were understaffed. When the hospital experienced a surge of admissions creating more of a demand for nurses, the risk of mortality rose 4 percent for patients.

Considering the findings of this study, researchers suggest that hospitals currently focused on cutting costs by short-staffing units reassess their goals to include patient safety as a priority. Needleman and his co-authors also recommend implementing new ways to handle admission and transfer surges so each patient can receive proper care.

An increased risk of death for patients as a result of hospital understaffing is a reality throughout the country. Many patients in need of immediate medical attention do not get the care and treatment they require because hospitals often fail to properly staff their units. If you or a loved one was seriously hurt or died as a result of hospital negligence, call or email the injury attorneys at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. today for a free consultation. We have helped clients with Brooklyn hospital malpractice, Bronx hospital malpractice, Queens hospital malpractice, Manhattan hospital malpractice and Long Island hospital malpractice fight for the justice they deserve.

Call us toll-free at 1-877-ASK4SAM and visit us online at for more information.

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