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Nurses at Michigan hospitals complain about patient safety

Medical malpractice cases here in Michigan often involve a misdiagnosis, medical error or injury caused by a doctor or medical professional. However, in some cases the medical professionals may not be as much to blame as the hospital. Unfortunately, hospitals sometimes put patients at risk by fostering environments that lead to medical malpractice.

Recently, nurses at two hospitals in Michigan filed federal complaints about their employers, stating that understaffing is putting patients at risk. Both of the hospitals are in Lenawee County and they are owned by Pro-Medica.

The nurses, who are currently in contract negotiations, have complained that nurses at these hospitals are forced to work 16-hour shifts, caring for up to seven patients at once.

A nurse with the Michigan Nurses Association told Michigan Radio that while staffing levels should vary depending on hospital units, nurses on surgical floors should not be responsible for any more than four patients. In intensive care units, the common practice in the field is for nurses to have no more than one patient at a time, she said.

Of course, when nurses must care for too many patients and are working too long of hours, the conditions may be ripe for medical errors, infections and even death.

The nurses have also accused the hospitals of retaliating against those who raise concerns about understaffing.

When practices such as chronic understaffing lead to medical errors and injuries, hospitals may be held accountable with a medical malpractice claim. However, it is important that advocates stand up for patient safety and work to prevent medical errors and other hospital negligence issues before patients are hurt.

Source: Michigan Radio, "Nurses say understaffing at two Michigan hospitals puts patients at risk," Rina Miller, Jan. 9, 2013

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