Last week we posted on a story on a key concern for many a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer-the staggering amount of overtime hours that area nurses accrue. Cook County medical professionals regularly work far more overtime hours than in most places across the country and more than industry standard groups recommend.
The major concern related to excess overtime is the toll it takes on the employees and the quality of their work. A new study published in the Health Services Research journal (and analyzed on Modern Healthcare) lends credence to the concern that too much overtime increases the instances of medical malpractice.
Specifically, the research found that hospitals that reduced the overtime hours of their nurses had fewer patients who were forced for return to the hospital shortly after leaving. In other words, patients treated by overworked nurses more often had their medical problem reoccur, requiring more hospitalization.
The data was culled from nearly 2,000 patients at a select group of hospitals, and was funded by the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative. The overall effect of fewer readmissions caused by fresh nurses saved medical payers roughly $608 per patient. Even taking into account the cost of having more nurses to reduce overtime, the average cost savings was $410 per patient.
The research is only the latest data to suggest that nurse performance falters when they are forced to work longer hours. Of course, unlike other professions, mistakes in performance in the healthcare field have serious (often deadly) consequences on patients. It is for that reason that these workers must be held to a reasonable standard that ensures patient safety.
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti firmly believe, as this study demonstrates, that lives can be saved and money can be saved by recommitting to patient safety efforts. This information stands as even more proof that there remains no need to strip away the legal rights of victims to save on healthcare costs-reducing malpractice itself is the most logical way to save money and improve medical care.
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