Unsafe Staffing

Liability is always shared between the staff nurse and supervisor

Unsafe Staffing

A situation in which a registered nurse is unable to provide quality care to his/her patients/clients. An understaffed unit is an incident.

Any time the floor or unit is understaffed, you have a duty to make that known. Use an Incident Report/ Quality Assurance form and/or the Staffing Assignment Report. An understaffed unit is an area of liability, a risk that needs to be brought to the attention of the manager.

From a liability perspective, you need documentation that each level of the organization was aware of staffing difficulties.

  • Tell your supervisor or nurse manager.
  • Make copies for yourself and the Local 141 representative.
  • Give a copy to your manager or risk management..
  • Send a copy to Local 141.

We then notify Nursing Administration. This is the only proof that you recognized and reported a potentially dangerous situation to the hospital administrator who is responsible for solving it. If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.

Unsafe Staffing

Staff Nurse Liability:

  • Liability is always shared between the staff nurse and supervisor.
  • When working on understaffed units, you do face an increased possibility of liability.
  • Floating to an area with which you are unfamiliar will incur a higher risk of liability.
  • Much of your liability depends on whether or not you prioritize your tasks appropriately.

Supervisor Liability

  • Supervisors will share liability for patient injuries.
  • They also share liability if they knowingly float individuals to areas outside their competency.
  • Supervisors have a duty to help understaffed units by obtaining additional staff, pitching in to help, and they should make frequent visits to understaffed units.
  • All nurses, whether supervisory or not, need to be careful and cognizant that they will remain liable for all tasks attempted, completed, and omitted.

Institutional Liability

  • The hospital remains liable for the behavior of it’s employees

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