The husband of a deceased Cincinnati, Ohio nurse says that she died due to major and irresponsible staffing cuts at her hospital. Beth Jaspers died in a one-car accident when she lost control of her SUV, flew off of Ohio’s Route 50, crashed into a tree, and died at the scene. The accident took place in the early morning hours as she attempted to return home after a 12-hour shift.
Jim Jasper’s lawsuit names Jewish Hospital and its parent company Mercy Health Partners as defendants in the suit which alleges that they willfully and knowingly worked Beth Jaspers to death by accounting for staffing cuts by making the remaining nurses work longer hours than expected in order to cover the hospital’s needs.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the hospital was “regularly understaffed” and had been since 2011. Due to the understaffing nurses would regularly be called in to work while off-duty, work through meal breaks and often without bathroom breaks, pick up additional shifts, and be asked to work longer hours than scheduled.
The hospital would not comment, referencing pending litigation, except to say, “Our hearts go out to the family.”
The lawsuit states that during her last shift Beth Jaspers told co-workers that she was “really stressed” and “hadn’t eaten,” and that this fatigue caused by chronic hospital understaffing contributed to her death. It also alleges that Beth Jaspers’ supervisor was well aware of how hard she’d been being worked, even reporting to her superiors that Beth was being “worked to death.” Despite this, no action was taken by the hospital to deal with the nurse burnout caused by understaffing.
“Something needs to change, these nurses cannot be treated this way. The patient care is an issue, but they can’t continue to work these nurses and expect them to pick up the slack because they don’t want to staff the hospitals,” Jim Jasper told a CNN affiliate.
Bonnie Castillo, government relations director with National Nurses United, told CNN that habitual hospital understaffing is a huge issue at many hospitals throughout the U.S.
“It is probably the single biggest issue facing nurses nowadays, and it’s not only affecting nurses, but patient health as well,” said Castillo.
Nurse burnout is certainly a major issue, and it’s truly tragic when a situation like Beth Jaspers’ death occurs. Travel Nurses are one way to fend off the ill effects of nurse burnout. What steps does your facility take in order to combat nurse burnout?