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Inadequate staffing puts high-risk infants in more danger

A study that was recently published in an issue of JAMA-Pediatrics should prompt hospitals in Chicago and throughout the U.S. to make sure they have enough nurses on staff at all times to prevent serious or fatal injuries to patients, particularly newborn babies who are born weighing less than 3.25 pounds.

According to the study, which was funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, infants who are born with very low birth weights (VLBW) do not always receive the top-notch care that they need to survive after birth.

Poor care, which may be the result of nursing negligence, hospital negligence, or inadequate staffing errors, puts infants with low birth weights at a higher risk of developing hospital-acquired infections. And because these high-risk patients may suffer from a variety of medical complications after birth, an infection has the ability to cause premature and VLBW infants to suffer fatal or permanent injuries.

For the study, researchers analyzed data gathered on VLBW infants from nearly 70 neonatal intensive care units that had treated the high-risk infants between 2008 and 2009. Overall, data from more than 19,000 high-risk infants had been examined by researchers. The study revealed that nearly 14 percent of the infants had developed hospital-acquired infections during 2009. When high-risk babies develop infections their risk of dying doubles.

The study also revealed that one-third of the infants had not been monitored as thoroughly as they should have been due to inadequate staffing. Inadequate staffing may prevent nurses from being able to properly sanitize medical equipment that is used to treat high-risk infants. Inadequate staffing may also cause nurses to make serious errors while trying to treat too many patients during their shifts. Poor care may make these vulnerable infants even more vulnerable to suffering serious injuries from infections and other medical complications.

If you believe that nursing negligence or hospital negligence contributed to your baby’s suffering after being born as a high-risk infant, you may want to contact an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about holding medical professionals accountable for their dangerous mistakes.

Source: ICT, “Nurse understaffing increases infection risk in VLBW babies,” March 18, 2013


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