New Jersey Nurse Fatigue May Cause Medical Negligence Or Errors

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New Jersey is among a growing group of states that now have laws in place to prohibit nurses from accepting mandatory overtime. The laws are designed to help prevent medical negligence or errors that can occur when nurses are overly fatigued. The president of one state’s Nurses Association/National Nurses United believes that forcing fatigued nurses to work can create dangers for patients and lead to preventable errors or medical complications.

The new law states that nurses cannot work more than a set number of hours within a 24-hour period. In addition, nurses will have protection from retribution from their employer for refusing to work additional hours. Similar laws are in place in 14 states so far, according to the American Nurses Association.

Studies conducted by one state indicate that there is a strong correlation between nurses being overworked and fatigued and patient medical errors or even death. The federal Agency for Health Research and Quality has recommended that nurses not work more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. In addition, they should not work more than 60 hours out of seven days.

Though efforts are being made in these 14 states to limit fatigue in order to reduce medical negligence or errors, it is not always the case that these recommendations are followed. In addition, nurses make up but one part of the medical team involved in a patient’s care. When anyone in New Jersey seeks medical attention, they place their hope and faith in the team of professionals handling their care.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell whether that doctor or nurse is fully rested and at the top of their performance. Though state and federal governments are attempting to reduce the instances of medical negligence or errors, it is ultimately the responsibility of the medical facility and the individual medical provider to ensure that they are acting in a safe manner. Patients who believe that they have been the victim of medical negligence may benefit from seeking the opinion of another doctor. In addition, they may choose to investigate what their rights are under their state’s medical malpractice laws to determine whether they may be able to seek compensation for their damages.

Source: AssociationsNow.com, “With Association Support, Mass. Limits Mandatory Overtime for Nurses,” Katie Bascuas, Nov. 6, 2012

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