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Safety “workarounds” put patients at risk

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

There’s no doubt that medical facilities of all kinds have been hard-pressed for resources – especially when it comes to staffing. Inadequate staffing is simply an inescapable reality for many hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.

Unfortunately, that leads to another inescapable reality: Nurses and other caregivers often have to get creative with “workarounds” in order to get things done. However, those workarounds are not without serious dangers to the patients involved.

What’s a workaround?

Generally, a “workaround” is any action taken to ease the problems with patient care caused by understaffing, particularly when doing so requires the nurse or another medical provider to circumvent safety protocols.

While often viewed as necessary – or even clever –regular workarounds actually create as many problems with patient care as they solve. In some cases, they may even put patients’ lives in danger.

For example, imagine this scenario: A patient is waiting for a much-needed medication. When it finally arrives from the pharmacy, the barcode on the bottle is partially obscured and cannot be scanned. The nurse overrides the computer and manually records the dosage given to the patient. Unfortunately, the medication turns out to be the wrong one – and the patient is injured.

Sometimes, workarounds create problems in more subtle ways. When immediate problems (like a damaged barcode on a medication bottle) are addressed without any further thought to correcting an underlying problem (like whatever happened in the pharmacy that allowed that bottle of drugs to go out in the first place), problems will compound. A workaround that was viable in the past can become dangerous in the future.

Whatever the cause, medical mistakes that leave patients seriously injured shouldn’t happen. If you or your loved one suffered irreparable harm because of a medical provider’s negligence, you have a right to ask for compensation for your losses.