Understaffing in hospitals and other medical facilities serves as a major issue in modern American medicine. This problem is not new, and it continues to worsen as time goes on. Unfortunately, patients feel the repercussions of understaffing more acutely now than ever before.
Due to understaffing, problems continue to crop up and worsen in medical facilities across the nation. Delayed diagnoses serve as just one point out of many.
What is understaffing?
Columbia School of Nursing discusses the ties between understaffing and infections in the hospital. In this study, an increase of healthcare-associated infections – i.e. infections that start within a medical setting – tied directly to the fact that these locations suffered from understaffing.
In short, a hospital or facility suffers from understaffing when they do not have enough nurses, doctors and other medical professionals to serve everyone at their location. In particular, the nursing shortage is an ongoing problem that continues to worsen, causing a domino effect that impacts everyone else in the facility including the patients.
Issues that stem from understaffing
When a facility suffers from understaffing, the staff still on board picks up all the remaining slack. This can lead to slower treatment times, more mistakes and less one-on-one attention for all patients. This is also why delayed diagnoses persist as an issue among understaffed hospitals. In short, the facility simply does not have enough eyes on every patient to notice when they happen to show symptoms or signs of an illness that a more robust staff would have identified swiftly.
In the end, everyone suffers from staff shortages. The nurses left behind suffer from overburdening of duties and tasks, while patients suffer from not getting the care and treatment they need in a timely manner.