Hospital Sued for “Working” Woman to Death

The claim that a hospital could be responsible for “working” someone to death might at first glance seem preposterous, barring the unlikely event that the hospital employed the woman to fight with lions.

As it turns out, though, a man is suing the hospital at which his wife worked as a nurse – the same hospital at which she worked a 12-hour shift before falling asleep at the wheel and dying in a car wreck on what would have been her ride home. The wrongful death suit claims that the hospital deliberately and negligently required that the woman work extra and extended shifts, as a way to ensure that there was always a qualified nurse on staff. (The woman, according to the lawsuit, was one of the few nurses competent to operate the hospital’s dialysis machine.)

The personal injury attorneys at Aronberg & Aronberg know that, while the hospital’s intentions might have been good, their strategy and execution were wrong. Ensuring that competent employees are available to help patients is a noble objective, but it is a goal that could have been achieved by hiring another nurse or two. The hospital did not just have to unload all of the extra work onto this one woman, upon whom the laborious hours eventually took their toll.

According to the lawsuit filed by the grieving husband and his attorney, during the victim’s last shift before she died, she reportedly told coworkers that she was “really stressed” and noted that she hadn’t eaten. One might point to the fact that she was hungry as evidence for her being fatigued for reasons other than work. While choosing not to eat is a decision that only an individual can make, there are contributing factors in such decisions. Why didn’t she eat? Was it because she didn’t have time at work? Had she required caffeine to stay awake through the shifts that depleted her appetite? All of these questions deserve answers, and the answers to many of them conclude that the hospital played a contributing role in the senseless death of this woman.

Consider this example: a man is at a bar all night drinking, and the bartender continues to serve him despite the fact that he is clearly intoxicated. Then, the man leaves the bar, gets into his car to drive, and crashes on the way home, killing himself. In this case, the bar could very well be held partially liable for the man’s death. No, the bartender didn’t force the man to drive home or to crash, but he continued to enable the man to drink when he knew that he had already consumed too much alcohol.

Similarly, the hospital continued to force upon the woman excruciating hours that were already affecting the woman’s well being, as evidenced by her voiced complaints over stress and a lack of food. Even if the woman hadn’t been vocal about her concerns – which she was – the hospital should have realized that they were requiring that she work too many hours. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to determine that repeatedly giving a nurse 12-hour shifts and calling her in on her day’s off for supplementary shifts is not good for her well being. (If, in fact, it did take a brain surgeon to make that determination, the hospital still isn’t off the hook, for there were undoubtedly medical experts including brain surgeons who were available to comment on the health risks of over-working an individual.)

Given the facts of the case, holding a hospital responsible for over-working their employees isn’t overly litigious; rather, it’s entirely justified. Countless studies have yielded results proving that driving while overtired can be just as dangerous as or more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. In over-working their employee, the hospital risked not only her life, but the life of others on the road. As it turns out, the other individuals on the road made it home safely, while their employee did not.

If you’ve been injured due to the wrongdoing of an employer, please reach out to us for a free consultation. The attorneys at Aronberg & Aronberg can be reached at 561-266-9191 or at daronberg@build.simple.biz.

For more information on this lawsuit, please refer to this article from CNN.

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