It’s hard to believe that in my lifetime I’d ever see layoffs in the nursing field. Like many of you, I remember the good times when there were billboards around my city advertising signing bonuses for nurses at local hospitals. That’s all changing. Two recent articles in the Wall Street Journal (1) (2) and one in the Washington Post are focusing on the fact that, while there is still a nursing shortage, there is now a shortage of nursing jobs. That sounds like a contradiction in terms but it’s not.
In a March 2009 report, the AHA revealed that 53% of the hospitals surveyed were operating at a negative margin or in plain English, they’re losing money. Hospitals in some areas of the country are reducing hospital staff. Just a year ago hospitals that were taking just about any skilled nurse who walked through the door are now finding it easier to be selective in their hiring. In short, this ain’t your mother’s nursing profession anymore.
If the news from nursing wasn’t already bad enough, there’s a news story about Dean Health System which announced its intention to “immediately” lay off 90 employees. This included a nurse who was assisting in a surgical procedure and was called out of surgery to be told she was laid off! Okay, I can understand cost cutting, but don’t you think it’s a little extreme to lay someone off in the middle of a procedure? Has the world just gone crazy? What if they’d laid off the anesthesiologist? Or the surgeon? I shudder to think of the consequences (Dr. Smith, please report to HR, stat!).
The good thing about legal nurse consulting is that medical malpractice and personal injury litigation is recession proof. Now that we’re seeing financial stress on hospitals and doctors, I believe we’re going to start seeing more and more medical and nursing malpractice as well as the delivery of substandard healthcare.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that a fifth of Medicare patients were rehospitalized within 30 days of their initial discharge! When the pressure is on to cut healthcare costs by reducing care, testing and length of stay; as nursing shifts come under more pressure with fewer nurses covering more patients; and as healthcare continues to devolve into what I call the “Dark Ages of Medicine;” you can be sure that Certified Legal Nurse Consultants will be on the front lines working with attorneys to redress the wrongs that are certain to happen.
One of the things I like best about being a self-employed entrepreneur is that the only person who can lay me off – is me (and that isn’t happening any time soon)!
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