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Did you know that medical errors account for over 251,000 deaths annually within the United States? This data is according to a recent study by John Hopkins Medicine. To be precise, the study reveals that 251,454 people die every year due to medical malpractice. The data positions medical errors as the third leading cause of death in America.
Medical malpractice is a serious offense that occurs when medical personnel incompetently performs their duties. As the victim, you can sue the liable nurse, doctor, or hospital for their failures and damages. Due to the seriousness of such a case, you ought to hire an attorney to guide you through. More often than not, you will get compensation for the damages.
Malpractice is a trend that isn’t coming to an end any time soon. Amidst the COVID pandemic, experts claim that malpractice lawsuits are increasing day by day. According to one source, 4% of the lawsuits in Michigan in 2020 were medical errors and COVID-related. But how is the pandemic contributing to such an upsurge in medical errors?
How the Pandemic Is Causing an Increase in Medical Errors
The pandemic continues to increase the wave of patients visiting the hospitals. Similarly, cases of malpractice are rising as a result of an increase in incompetency and professional neglect. Below are other COVID-related factors that are contributing to the rising cases.
1. Hospitals Are Understaffed
Understaffing is at the heart of the increased cases of medical errors during the COVID pandemic. It is rapidly increasing the ratio of patients per nurse in most hospitals within the United States. The increase is due to the high COVID transmission rate that peaks at 20% in some states.
The results of having less staff are catastrophic. When a hospital has fewer nurses and doctors, the quality of patient care reduces. As a result, the team tends to lose focus because of the overwhelming responsibilities. Therefore, instances of a patient falling, post-surgery infections, and postoperative complications like hemorrhage will end up increasing.
To prevent this, hospitals should keep the number of patients per nurse low. Additionally, they can open an internship program for fresh graduates, especially during this pandemic. However, the hospital should monitor the inexperienced intern students or otherwise risk worse medical errors.
2. Over-Patient Capacity Causing Medical Errors
Before the pandemic, most hospitals knew their patient flow on a daily or monthly basis. However, the pandemic resulted in an over-patient capacity in most hospitals. What’s worse, the hospital resources like beds and oxygen became a rare commodity. And in the long run, some patients end up receiving less quality care.
Over-patient capacity leads to more medical errors, especially because the nurses and doctors exhibit poor work performance. The pandemic increased the patient-to-nurse ratio and, as a result, reduced the critical attention each patient receives. Experts recommend that the best patient-to-nurse ratio is one nurse for every four patients. However, most hospitals during the pandemic are far past this ratio and, hence, more probable malpractice cases.
Over-patient capacity is at times a challenge because hospitals can’t control the patient’s choice. However, crowded hospitals should refer some medical cases or increase the number of staff. Additionally, they should improvise technology to help better their services.
3. Inadequate Rest Between Staffs’ Shift
There is no doubt that the pandemic continues to create bulk work for doctors and nurses. On the other hand, other conditions like diabetes are still flooding in. The main challenge is that most cases need personalized care, and so automation is not an option. Therefore, hospital staff won’t have the luxury of sleeping adequately.
According to research by The Lancet, during this pandemic, frontline nurses in Wuhan expressed great burnout, anxiety, and depression. This is due to work bulk and some hospitals exerting pressure on the staff by reducing the resting time. It is important to note that lack of enough sleep can impair judgment and deprive overall performance.
Experts recommend healthy adults sleep at least seven to nine hours. If the hospital has more traffic, it should increase the workforce by hiring additional staff. Otherwise, interfering with the staff’s resting time will increase medical errors and victim lawsuits.
4. Reassignment of Staff
The Coronavirus is mainly associated with the breathing systems, especially the lungs. Since the hospitals are recording massive numbers from the disease, some departments have gained more traffic than others. As a result, most hospitals opt to assign their less-engaged staff to new roles and responsibilities.
Nurses who have specialized in mental health will perform poorly if reassigned to deal with medications. That reassignment alone could result in the wrong prescription for a patient and end up killing them. Such medical errors do not go unpunished just because the nurse was assigned new roles. Prescribing wrongly has brought many hospitals to their knees during this pandemic.
Instead of reassigning staff to new roles, hospitals should source specialized nurses. Hiring specialized medical personnel will prevent the occurrence of minor medical errors that would cost a life. In the end, the services will improve the reputation of the company.
5. Reduced Hospital Resources
The pandemic has hit most businesses hard, including hospitals. Some of the malpractice you have probably heard in the news is due to unavoidable accidents. Such accidents include the reduction of hospital resources.
Due to the higher demand, some resources like PPEs, surgical masks, and oxygen have become important but rare. This poses a challenge because a patient could sue a doctor for malpractice if they delay the treatment. What happens if the delay isn’t intentional?
There isn’t much a hospital can do to improve the availability of high-demand resources. However, coming clean about the reasons for the delay and obtaining the patient’s consent on various serious scenarios can help.
Who Should I Hire for My Malpractice Case After Medical Errors?
Do you have a medical malpractice case and are looking for competent lawyers to handle it? If you’re, Weltchek, Mallahan, and Weltchek trial attorneys will suit you. We are a medical malpractice firm with compelling experience and competency in what we do. We would love to help you seek compensation for your injuries. Trust us with your case by contacting us today.
Who Can You Trust with Your Case?
Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.
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