Temporary Staff Members Cause More Errors Then Permanent Staff Members; Kingston, New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Evaluates Study

Medical Malpractice Mistakes

A recent study published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality found that temporary staff members in emergency medical centers are much more responsible for harmful errors in prescribing medication and other errors than permanent staff are. In fact, one of the researchers from John Hopkins University Schools of Medicine said that their “work suggests that if you can, you probably want to avoid hiring temporary staff because they are associated with more severe medical errors.”

The study was very extensive and looked at more than 24,000 emergency departments in 952 hospitals during a five year span between 2000 to 2005. Particularly, the study looked at errors in prescribing medication to patients.
Temporary workers were reported to be more likely than permanent workers to incorrectly prescribe medication for patients, more likely to require patient monitoring and cause harm to them, and when an error does occur, the errors were reportedly more likely to be life-threatening.

About a month ago I reported to you that surgeons doing dangerous neck stents who had performed the surgery the most in a given year had a significantly lower mortality rate than physicians who performed the surgery very few times during the year. This makes sense-doesn’t it? Just how surgeons who do the neck stents have lower mortality rates than those that don’t because they do it more often and essentially “practice it,” permanent workers have more experience and keep the medication information fresh in their head better than their temporary counterparts.

Does this mean we should have some kind of temporary training program? Maybe a pre-shift test, or a quick reference sheet? A medication refresher video before the start of shifts for important and potentially dangerous medications? Whatever it be, I think temporary workers need to be held to some standard to keep important information fresher in their heads to help drop some of the mistakes they may make. Granted, this could also be that temporary workers are temporary for the purpose that they are-indeed-not “good enough” to be permanent workers and therefore more prone to make errors. However, I would be surprised if this was the case for a large number of those temporary workers.

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.