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Ohio hospital errors increase with exhausted workers

Medical mistakes and hospital errors increase when Ohio nurses and doctors suffer from fatigue. The Ohio Joint Commission, which licenses hospitals, reports that many medical personnel work 12-hour shifts or even longer on a regular basis. These extreme work hours increase the likelihood that a person will make a medical error when addressing patients’ needs.

Nurses, in particular, often extend their shifts beyond the scheduled 12 hours. This happens when patients have pressing medical needs or are unstable. Concerns from the commission include a decrease in empathy from nurses and lapses in decision-making skills when the nurse is exhausted. Ohio and local Hamilton County officials are working to improve both medical personnel and patient experiences in the region’s hospitals.

The Ohio Joint Commission is trying to prevent medical errors by improving the processes in place for the changing of shifts in hospitals. New checklists will assist analysis of a patient’s condition and assist the incoming doctor or nurse during a shift change. This new tool will hopefully prevent patient diagnosis and treatment errors in Ohio hospitals.

When a fatigued medical professional commits an error in diagnosis or treatment, it can be the patient that suffers. Ohio medical patients may become more ill or even die as a result of a medical error. In many cases, the outcome is the result of the decision-making ability of the medical professional in charge of the patient’s care.

An official from OhioHealth reported recently that the local medical community has been slow to adopt changes in the scheduling of nurses and doctors. He pointed out that though new changes have come slowly, more hospitals are hiring floating nurses and doctors who can help fill in when shift changes or low staffing issues occur. Patients hope that these changes are accepted soon so that they can rest assured that when they are injured or sick, it is their care that is the sole focus of the treating medical professional.

Source: The Insurance Journal, “Warning issued on weary health staff,” Misti Crane, Dec. 14, 2011

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