Doctors, nurses increasingly affected by mass layoffs at hospitals

With patient safety already slipping in the midst of the current recession, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that clinical staff is being affected by mass layoffs now gives U.S. hospitals even more reason to keep a close eye on the quality of patient care. 

Eighteen mass layoffs--layoffs where at least 50 workers filed for unemployment claims--affected 1,967 employees this past April. Only the anomaly of Hurricane Katrina, which caused 30 mass layoffs in September 2005, affected more employees (8,687), according to BLS reports American Medical News

"Generally, hospitals will do anything but lay off their clinical staff," Bruce Rueben, president and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association, told Florida's Jackson Health System is among one of the more well-known hospital systems to succumb to mass layoffs, with doctors and nurses among the 613 positions that already have been cut. "That's the last course of action...because patient care comes first," he continued. 

Another telling statistic: Hospital employment, as a whole, decreased from April to May of this year by 3,300 workers (from 4,711,200 in April to 4,707,900 in May). Prior to that, hospital employment had been steadily on the rise, despite the mass layoffs, due mainly to the fact that hospitals tend to continue hiring clinical staff, even while cutting administrative staff.

One bright spot, reported, was that the number of workers at physician practices grew by 2,500 from April to May of this year. 

For more information:
- read this American Medical News piece