Recession hurts patients, survey finds

Staff reductions, increased workloads and low morale at hospitals impacted by the economic downturn has put patients at risk of unsafe care, according to a recent survey of 848 health-care workers by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham, Pa.

The nonprofit group said one in five respondents to its survey reported a large negative impact on medication safety at their hospitals due to the economy and another 21 percent said the downturn was a moderate negative for patient safety. Nearly one third (31 percent) of the survey respondents said that staffing reductions had resulted in missed checks of “high-alert” medications before administration to patients.

“About 20 percent of respondents reported that medication errors have occurred in the past year in which changes due to the economic downturn were a contributing factor,” the medication safety group reported. And more than one in four (27 percent) of those who responded to the survey said the leaders of their hospital have “developed a plan to minimize the backslide on patient safety during the economic downturn.”