Nurse shortages result in patient deaths, strikes

Staffing shortages aren't simply headaches for the medical staff. Staffing levels that can't meet demand can cause strikes and, even worse, patient deaths.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health called out Carlisle Regional Medical Center for dangerously low staffing numbers that may have led to two patient deaths, reports The Patriot-News. The investigation found that the emergency department services did not meet "acceptable standards of practice" for two serious events, according to the state report.

One patient died while being scanned without a nurse present. Another patient died waiting for transfer to another hospital for valve-replacement surgery, reports The Patriot-News.

There were 233 unfilled shifts in the emergency department registered nurse (RN) schedule from June 27 to July 23, according to the article.

"Carlisle Regional Medical Center takes these findings seriously. We are very committed to patient care and the safety of our patients is our utmost concern," said Carlisle Regional's Florida-based parent Health Management Associates in a statement.

In other areas of the country, nurse staffing levels have reached critical mass with protests. More than 50 nurses last week picketed outside of HCA-owned Central Florida Regional Hospital for staffing issues, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The National Nurses United and the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Florida complained that hospital officials assigned nurses to short-staffed units but specialty units, such as cardiology, require specific training that they haven't had, which can jeopardize patient care.

In other news, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M., recently dodged a strike with a last-minute negotiation over staffing levels, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.

For more information:
- read The Patriot-News article
- check out the health inspection report
- read the Orlando Sentinel article
- see the Santa Fe New Mexican article

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