Many people choose to seek elective medical treatment during the holiday season, as they often have time from work and can also have time to recover from procedures without the worry of missing out on social events (which tend to be fewer in number during the post-holiday period). However, people who schedule medical treatment and procedures during the holidays may fail to think about the increased risk of medical malpractice during the holidays.
Unfortunately, medical providers and facilities have increased risks of errors during the holidays due to understaffing, temporary staffing, and being overworked. Although you should always seek medical attention if you believe you are facing a medical emergency, if you have a choice about when to get medical care or schedule a medical procedure, you may want to consider waiting until after the holidays to help lower your risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice.
Why the “Weekend Effect” Is More Prevalent over the Holidays
The “weekend effect” refers to the perceived phenomenon that hospital errors and patient fatalities increase during the weekend and over holidays. Studies have found that rates of errors and patient fatalities are higher over the weekend compared to weekdays. The “weekend effect” is usually attributed to the fact that staffing ratios at hospitals and medical facilities are lower over the weekend, with the staff on duty over the weekend often having less experience compared to staff who normally work on weekdays.
The factors that lead to the “weekend effect” tend to persist throughout the holiday season, even during normal weekdays over the holidays. Many healthcare workers will take extended vacation time from work during the holidays to spend extra time with family, especially if they have children who are out of school on break. As a result, many hospitals and healthcare facilities may operate with lower staffing numbers or may bring in per diem or temporary staff to help maintain required ratios.
Common Types of Malpractice That Occur During the Holidays
Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice that occur during the holiday season include:
- Emergency room errors, such as triage errors or premature discharge of a patient
- Medication errors, including prescribing a contraindicated medication, administering the wrong dose, or administering medication to the wrong patient
- Surgical mistakes, including wrong patient/wrong site surgery, leaving instruments or materials inside a patient, or unnecessarily damaging tissue
- Birth injuries
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Being the Victim of Medical Malpractice over the Holidays
If you do choose or need to seek medical attention or treatment over the holidays, there are steps and tips that you can follow to help keep yourself safe and reduce the risk of being harmed by errors from medical malpractice:
- If you can schedule a procedure, avoid scheduling the procedure right before Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve/Day, or New Year’s Eve/Day, as medical professionals may be too focused on ending their shift and starting their holiday.
- When you find yourself in the emergency room or hospital over the holiday (or during any other time of the year), remember to always ask questions of your doctors and nurses, including what procedure or medication they are administering and why you need the procedure or medication. If something doesn’t make sense to you, do not hesitate to request to speak to an attending physician or request a second opinion.
- If you need to go to the ER or hospital, it can be helpful to have someone with you who can act as a second set of eyes and ears, especially if you are distracted by physical distress or given heavy medication or sedation.
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Haddonfield medical malpractice attorneys at The Law Offices of Andres & Berger P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, and Collingswood. Call us today at (856) 795-1444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 264 Kings Hwy. E., Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.