Unhealthy healthcare workers can be dangerous to your health. For example, nursing is a high-pressure and stressful profession, and nurses are constantly exposed to germs and diseases, so it is no wonder that a recent study found that more than half of nurses reported poor physical and mental health. The study, in the online Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found depression to be the major concern of responding nurses, with about a third reporting some degree of depression, anxiety or stress.
Unfortunately for patients, nurses who are depressed or in poor health are subject to making medical errors, at a rate of 26 to 71 percent higher than their healthier peers. The National Academy of Medicine has recently acknowledged that burnout, compassion fatigue, depression, and poor work-life balance affect a large percentage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
If a nurse or other healthcare worker is impaired by illness or depression, or if a hospital or healthcare facility is not considering the health of their staff and fails to implement strategies to support good physical and mental health in their employees and prevent spread of disease, patients may be injured, sickened or even die as a result.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm or someone has died due to negligence of a medical professional suffering from health problems, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. The seasoned Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. We offer a free consultation to carefully examine the individual facts in your case and determine the best way to handle it. Put our experience to work for you today by calling (570) 323-8711 or by using our online contact form.
Why the Problem
Nurses, doctors, interns, and other medical professionals often work irregular hours and long shifts that may contribute to fatigue and depression. In addition, healthcare workers are at great risk of contracting and spreading contagious diseases from patients, which they can then spread to other patients, who wind up with a disease that they did not have originally. All too often, healthcare workers resist vaccination, with fewer than half receiving vaccines each year for the common seasonal flu. Unvaccinated workers who spread the flu can cause tremendous harm, especially when they are dealing with vulnerable patients, such as those in intensive-care units.
According to a 2015 study in JAMA Pediatrics, 94% of clinicians believed working when sick puts patients at risk, but they usually came to work anyway. This was due to reasons such as difficulty finding coverage, being accustomed to working through sickness, and a desire not to let colleagues and patients down. However, JAMA’s editorial staff noted that while healthcare workers are pledged to “do no harm,” they can transmit a variety of infections to patients, and common but untreatable infections like enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus can prove deadly to patients with compromised immune systems.
What Can Be Done?
The National Academy of Medicine has made clinician well-being a high priority for healthcare quality and safety. It has been shown that many facility-acquired illnesses can be prevented if healthcare professionals are careful and follow guidelines and stress precautions such as wearing surgical masks and washing their hands frequently.
According to many public health officials, all healthcare workers should be vaccinated. To help, some hospitals use roving carts that bring vaccines to nursing stations and staff meetings. In some facilities, those who refuse to be vaccinated must sign statements acknowledging the risk they are assuming for themselves and for their patients.
Some facilities are providing depression screenings for staff and professional help for those with mental issues. The goal is to improve staff wellness, deal with issues before they get out of hand, and decrease the chances of mistakes being made.
Patients should have the right to expect that their healthcare professionals will not do them harm and that facilities will take every reasonable precaution to protect them from developing a new disease that they did not have upon admission. The failure of medical professionals or facilities to create and implement safe practices to protect patients can amount to medical negligence.
While it can be difficult to determine liability for injuries or death that may result, a thorough investigation into the specific circumstances of whether the harm could have been prevented may indicate who is at fault. An experienced medical malpractice attorney knows how to call in qualified expert medical witnesses to determine if there was compliance with the appropriate medical standard of care, if the illness was preventable, and if the negligence of a medical professional or staff was involved.
Cliff Rieders is a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. Rieders insisted on the legislation as President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, now the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority was served well by Cliff Rieders for 15 years. The Authority is supposed to receive reports from hospitals in Pennsylvania concerning “incidents” and “serious events.” The “serious events” are also to go the Pennsylvania Department of Health and are to be received by the patient or his/her family.
Contact Us For Help and a Free Evaluation
If you or somebody you know was harmed or someone has been injured due to the poor health of a medical worker, you can receive a free in-depth consultation by contacting attorney Clifford Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann. Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. He has written a leading textbook on medical malpractice, which is used in Pennsylvania by lawyers who work in the field. He is a well-known teacher, media authority, speaker and writer who testifies frequently on medical practice matters and who has helped write Pennsylvania legislation on the subject.
Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award, the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, and the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice. Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state. Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field and has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. He is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice and is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.
Contact Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling (570) 323-8711, or contact us online. Based in Williamsport, our firm serves clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and provides you with experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.