David N. Damick
Where is the Danger in Our Hospitals?? - Ask the nurses.
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
The reality is difficult to grasp. Preventable medical mistakes are now the third leading cause of death in our country.
That is preventable medical mistakes.
To see why, it pays to look at the “system” from the inside. Nurses in hospitals across the country have resorted to “work-arounds” to make the system work at all. Because they cannot get key medication for patients without going through bureaucratic delays, nurses hide medicines and medical equipment they may need quickly, in ceilings and behind other equipment or in closets. Really.... Nurses have to stash away the items they need for proper patient care, because the system puts the money at the top and not at the bedside.
Nurses have been called “eyes and ears” of the doctors. As the medical system is set up now, the nurse may be the only person to see the patient for long periods of time. And that time is now spent wrestling with administrative rules and poorly designed “electronic medical records.” As a clinical faculty member of the Pittsburgh School of Nursing wrote recently in the New York Times, “Most hospital nurses are stretched to their limits during their 12-hour shifts. No nurse has 90 minutes to lose to a slow pharmacy or an inefficient hospital bureaucracy.”
As an example of the problem, the article notes that sometimes nurses are supposed to spend so much time entering or double checking electronic record systems that do not work together, that they just “chuck the whole thing” so they can take care of the patient.
Doctors are so frustrated and burnt with the amount of time they spend making the electronic record happy, that some hospitals are providing “scribes”- really, they pay a person to walk around with the doctor and do the typing for them. This is insulting to the nurses, already overworked because the hospital says they cannot afford to hire more nurses.
You can read between the lines to see these work-arounds in action when we review the medical records after a serious medical error causes injury or death to someone’s loved one. What the nurses are telling us is that it doesn’t have to be this way.