Overworked Nurses Causing Medication Errors

by John McKiggan

Nurses who worked in hospitals that were understaffed, had inadequate medical resources and who had high rates of overtime were most likely to report that patients had been the victims of medication mistakes.

Nurses Stretched to the Limit:

Statistics Canada released a report today that says nurses working overtime or where staffing and resources were stretched were more likely to report a patient had received the wrong medication or dosage.

CTV reported some of the results of the study:

Among nurses who usually worked overtime, 22 per cent reported medication error, compared with 14 per cent of those who did not work overtime.

Among registered nurses whose working relations with physicians were least favourable, 27 per cent reported medication error, compared with 12 per cent among those whose working relations with physicians were most favourable.

Nurses with low support from co-workers were significantly more likely to report medication error than were those with more support. The study pointed out that low co-worker support might result from inadequate staffing as busy nurses may be less able or willing to help co-workers.

Just under a third (32 per cent) of nurses with low job security reported medication error, compared with 19 per cent with better job security.

About 28 per cent of those who said they were dissatisfied with their job reported medication error, compared with 18 per cent of those who were satisfied.

Downsizing Effecting Healthcare:

CBC News noted:

“In the view of many Canadian nurses, the restructuring of hospitals and downsizing of the nursing workforce that has taken place since the early 1990s has had a major impact on the quality of patient care,” reads the study. “It is hoped that this research will inform initiatives aimed at reducing risks to patient safety in Canadian hospitals.”

Medication Error is a HUGE Problem:

According to the American Public Health Association more than 25% of elderly patients suffer prescription errors.

24% of Canadian Adverse Events due to Medication Errors:

A report published in the May 25, 2004 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal entitled: “The Canadian Adverse Events Study: the incidence of adverse events in hospital patients in Canada” found that 1 in 19 adults will be given the wrong medication or wrong medication dosage and 24% of preventable adverse events were related to medication error.

No Standards to Report:

Part of the problem may be due to the fact that in Canada there are no national standards for disclosure of medical errors.

I have already posted about how medical malpractice kills more than 24,000 Canadians each year.

The average age of nurses in canada is rising and the problem is only going to get worse as overworked nurses burn out , retire or simply leave the profession.

So what can be done? More money to train nurses? Allowing foreign trained health professionals to practice in Canada? Use nurse practictioners to replace primary care physicians?

What do you think?

If you are looking for a Nova Scotia Medical Malpractice Lawyer you can contact me for a free copy of my book: The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of potential medical malpractice victims never receive a penny in compensation.

If you believe you or a family member believe you may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice you can contact me through this blog, or call me toll free at 1-888-647-7201.

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