According to a recent report by America’s Health Rankings, Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation. Other studies have found that women who are admitted into a hospital on a weekend for delivery have a greater risk of suffering complications and injuries compared to the rest of the week. According to these studies, maternal complication risks are highest during weekends, holidays and during night shifts when compared to weekday or day time births.
The results of the study are concerning, but not exactly surprising. Researchers have also found that there is a combination of several factors that can impact safety risks for patients admitted into the hospital during these risky times for a variety of conditions. For example, earlier studies have found that cardiac patients admitted into the hospital on weekends have a higher risk of complications or reduced care that impacts their survival risks. In 2016, a study published in the BMJ Quality and Safety found that heart attack survival odds for patients who were admitted into the hospital on weekends and night times were considerably reduced.
A major factor that impacts the quality of care when pregnant women are admitted into the hospital on weekends or on night times is reduced staffing. There are fewer staff members on duty during weekends and on holidays, and that can increase pressure on staff members which in turn reduces the quality of care. Night shifts also see a lower nurse-to-patient ratio which can impact the reading of test results or monitoring of the patient. In the case of a pregnant woman awaiting delivery, lower staffing ratios mean that critical foetal cardiac rate monitoring may be irregular, leading to maternal and foetal health complications.
Hospitals may opt for lower staff numbers on weekends or lower ratios during night times to help with their bottom line. That, however, creates challenges for patient safety. Any improvements to lower the risk to patient care during weekends or holidays will require that hospitals increase staff numbers, or maintain consistent nurse- patient ratios throughout the week and weekend.
Apart from holidays, weekends, and night times, there has also been a rise in complications seen in hospital admissions during the month of July. This is part of a phenomenon called the “July Effect” which results in an increased incidence of medical errors in the month of July. Researchers have found, for instance, a higher incidence of surgical site ruptures and wound infections in the month of July. This is because July is the month when residents typically begin their hospital residencies. These new residents have a learning curve, which can put patients at risk when they are in the care of inexperienced residents and fellows.
If your loved one has been injured as the result of a medical error, discuss your case with an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer at the Katz Law Firm. You may be eligible to file a claim that will recover damages for your medical costs, financial losses and pain and suffering.