Even before COVID-19, the medical industry was suffering from nursing shortages. Now, hospitals and clinics are cutting more staff in response to the current crisis.
A reduced nursing staff puts patients at risk. If you’re injured or don’t receive adequate care because of the nursing shortage, who’s at fault?
Why is There a Nursing Shortage?
There are now more than three million nurses in America. A recent CNN report shows that another 2.3 million nurses will be needed by 2025.
- As the country’s population continues to age, Baby Boomers are creating more demand for healthcare services.
- Although modern medical care is helping people live longer, the nursing workforce isn’t big enough to care for the growing elderly population.
- In many areas, nurses are retiring faster than they can be replaced.
- Many nurses are choosing to leave the profession due to stress and an ever-increasing patient-care workload.
The need for nurses is growing faster than new nurses can be trained. Many nursing schools have to turn away qualified applicants because of a lack of teachers.
Medicine is Big Business
In America, healthcare is a trillion dollar business. So, why are hospitals and clinics laying off nurses, even in the face of a shortage?
When profits begin to fall, the first thing a business does is to reduce staffing. You can see this today as hospitals and clinics furlough and lay off nurses and other staff.
A large share of revenue comes from discretionary medical services such as elective surgeries and outpatient procedures. In most cases, these have been completely discontinued during the COVID-19 crisis.
To make matters worse, the percentage of patients without insurance and those sick with the virus have soared. And, medical facilities now have the additional expenses of personal protective equipment, testing, and repeated cleaning and disinfecting.
Can the Nursing Shortage Lead to Negligence?
Medical negligence occurs when a person is injured due to the negligence of a hospital, doctor, or other medical professional.
To demonstrate negligence to a jury, the patient must prove:
- Was there a professional duty of care owed to the patient by the healthcare provider?
- Did the health care provider fail to meet that duty of care?
- Did the failure to meet the duty of care injure the patient, and
- What are the resulting damages?
Oftentimes, the negligence results from the failure of the hospital’s system (institutional failure) rather than the mistake of an individual nurse or doctor. Mistakes are often the product of an overworked medical staff, under staffing by the hospital, inadequate supplies or equipment, improper or a lack of training, or inadequate policies and procedures. Any of these shortfalls is more likely to result in mistakes. These are all part of the hospital’s duty of care owed to the patient.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
Medical negligence claims are complicated in normal times. The COVID-19 crisis and nursing shortage have made it even harder to pursue a negligence lawsuit. You need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been hurt by medical negligence, we can help. With over 140 years of combined experience, Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci is one of the region’s leading personal injury law firms.
If you need to talk to an attorney, please call us at (417) 313-1130, (417) 319-2113, or (833) 600-0125 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.