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Nurse dies in car accident: are hospital staff levels to blame?

A man in another state is suing his deceased wife's employer after she was involved in a fatal car accident on her way home from work. He claims the hospital that she worked at has been understaffed for years, leading to his wife picking up extra shifts and being called into work on days when she wasn't scheduled.

Being overworked can often contribute to fatigue, and might pose a danger while driving or working with patients. Wrongful death lawsuits against employers while the employee is no longer at work are rare, but this case presents a different side to how fatigue can result in wrongful deaths involving hospital workers.

Many times stories about wrongful death involving health care workers involve a patient's death. This case demonstrates how overworked hospital staff can result in dangers to the employees themselves. They could also pose a threat to other drivers on the road.

According to a report on the lawsuit, the woman also frequently missed breaks at her job due to staffing issues. The largest nurses union in the country, National Nurses United said that nurse staffing shortages are a major issue around the country. Nurse staffing levels are not regulated throughout the country, except in one state.

People in Louisiana might feel that they have to work the hours that their employers request for fear of losing their jobs. This can result in dangerous drivers on the road, and lead to increases in accidents because of driver fatigue. Speaking with an attorney after the loss of a loved one can help ensure a similar tragedy doesn't happen to another family, and ensure a victim's family is supported financially.

Source: CNN, “Lawsuit: Ohio nurse was 'worked to death',” Dominique Dodley, Nov. 12, 2013

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