Slate’s Law Blog

Nurses’ Medical Mistakes Related to Their Health

Nurses' Medical Mistakes

Medical errors can happen for a wide variety of reasons, and medical negligence is not confined to a particular type of healthcare provider. From general practitioners to specialist surgeons, from hospital facilities to laboratories, medical errors can occur and can result in patient injuries. According to a recent report in Health Leaders, medical mistakes involving critical care nurses may be linked to those nurses’ physical and mental health. The report, which cites a new study conducted by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, suggests that hospitals and other healthcare facilities that employ critical care nurses may be able to prevent medical errors and, accordingly, patient injuries, by establishing wellness programs to improve the mental and physical health of critical care nurses on staff.

Nurses’ Medical Mistakes: Critical Care Nurses Experience High Levels of Anxiety and Depression

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased mental health challenges for people in healthcare professions and across many different industries. Yet as the new study points out, critical care nurses had been “experiencing alarmingly high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and poor physical health” even before news of the coronavirus reached the U.S. The study makes clear that these factors are “correlated with an increase in self-reported medical errors,” suggesting that improving the mental and physical health of critical care nurses ultimately may result in a marked decrease in patient injuries caused by medical mistakes.

Currently, based on data from the study, nearly 61% of critical care nurses have self-reported having made a medical error at some point within the last five years. When taking into account the mental and physical health of critical care nurses, the study demonstrates that there is an apparent correlation between nurses with poorer health making more medical errors than nurses in better physical and mental health. Indeed, about 67% of critical care nurses who had “higher stress scores” self-reported medical mistakes, while only about 56% of critical care nurses “with no or little stress reported having made medical errors in the past five years.”

Focus on Wellness Could Prevent Medical Errors and Patient Injuries

Healthcare employers who focus on wellness may be able to prevent medical mistakes and, therefore, patient injuries. By and large, the study showed that “critical care nurses whose organizations put strong emphasis on their well-being are more likely to be fully engaged in patient care and make fewer medical errors.”

Medical errors that occur in critical care units cannot be explained solely by the mental and physical health of critical care nurses since these units involve “complex patient cases and multiple-system illnesses, which introduce more opportunity for human error.” Yet honing in on the mental and physical health—and overall wellness—of critical care nurses in these units could reduce the likelihood of a serious patient injury caused by a medical mistake.

Contact a Santa Fe Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Even if a healthcare provider’s mental or physical health plays a role in causing a patient’s injury, that healthcare provider can still be held accountable for patient injuries resulting from negligent care. An experienced Santa Fe medical malpractice attorney at our firm can speak with you today about your case and your options for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact Slate Stern Law to learn more.