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Staffing shortages and burnout could put patients at risk

Nurses and others dealing with burnout are in a difficult position right now. Hospitals are overwhelmed due to a variety of issues including a peaking cold and flu season and a mass exodus from the career by health care professionals who have been overwhelmed and overworked for far too long.

Staffing shortages and burnout are two dangerous issues for health care workers and patients alike. In addition, now is a time with highly contagious viruses and diseases, but personal protective equipment is still limited.

With the potential for more health care workers to be out of work and for staffing shortages to continue, there are steps that patients can do to help prevent errors that hurt them when they come to the emergency room or hospital. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. If it’s not an emergency, try an urgent care or primary care office

Emergencies are immediate crises like traumatic brain injuries or badly broken bones that have broken through the skin. Lesser emergencies, like a mild fracture of a bone or a bad case of bronchitis, may be better seen in your primary care provider’s office or a local urgent care.

Why avoid the emergency room? Right now, they’re overwhelmed. This means you’ll have a longer wait and potentially be dealing with staff members who are overworked and exhausted. Opt to seek treatment outside the hospital when possible.

  1. Have your medication list on hand and diagnoses ready

If you do have to go to the emergency room, be prepared with your medication list and diagnoses. That way, whoever is looking up your chart or putting a chart together will have the most vital information on hand.

  1. You can correct incorrect information

Finally, remember that you can take action and correct anything you suspect is incorrect. Did the nurse say your name incorrectly? Inform them. Did someone say that they see you have a history of a disease you don’t have? Let them know, so you can be safer.

Now is a frustrating time for nurses and other medical professionals. They may make mistakes due to exhaustion or overwork. As a patient, it’s in your best interests to speak up if something doesn’t seem right. You could help save your own life or prevent serious injuries.

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