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Lack of nurses in Florida hospital compromised patient safety

A recent state inspection of a Florida hospital has led to a citation for a shortage of nurses on staff. The review found nine nursing units were at least one nurse short of state mandated standards, which is considered a risk to patient safety. Though the hospital has hired enough nurses to fill the gap since the report was filed, these state inspections occur only periodically, and many southern Florida hospitals may face similar staffing shortfalls for extensive periods of time.

When a hospital lacks the proper number of personnel, hospital negligence may arise. A nursing staff failure can lead to medication error, surgical error and bed sores. Errant acts or omissions such as these can lead to severe injuries or death to hospital patients.

These types of hospital negligence were apparent in this specific case. In one instance, nurses failed to administer medication to a heart failure patient after it had been ordered by a doctor. In another case, medication was given to a cardiac patient five hours late. It was also discovered that at least one unattended patient collapsed in the bathroom after the hospital failed to assess the patient's risk of falling.

These easily preventable, yet all too common occurrences can have serious consequences. Victims of hospital negligence could face expensive and painful long-term care or death. In addition, victims and their families will be forced to face unexpected, and undeserved, medical and funeral expenses. The physical and emotional pain and stress can render a family helpless. A negligence claim can help ease these burdens and should be carefully considered.

Patients expect proper, efficient and effective care when they go to the hospital. Though the state tries to enforce standards that ensure this appropriate care, inspections are not constant and lapses in meeting those standards can occur. When this happens, hospitals should be held accountable so that the safety of future patients will be protected.

Source: Herald-Tribune, "Manatee Memorial cited for nurse shortage" Barbara Peters Smith, May 29, 2012

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