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Study: Temps more likely to commit emergency room errors

Posted on September 12th, 2011 Read time: 1 minutes

According to a recent study published in the July/August issue of the Journal for Healthcare Quality, temporary workers employed in healthcare emergency departments are more likely to make medication errors, American Medical News reports.

Authors used data drawn from drug error reporting system MEDMARX to reveal that of the 24,000 errors committed at 592 U.S. hospitals studied, 8 percent of temporary workers' errors harmed patients, compared to 4 percent by non-contract workers.

More than three-quarters of mistakes were administration-related. 

"When temporary staff are hired, they meet all the regulatory requirements, they're licensed and they're appropriately trained," said lead author Julius Cuong Pham, quoted by the news source. "But there's always this feeling that because they're temporary … they may be different in terms of the safety of the care they provide."

The study notes that at least 6 percent of U.S. nurses are temporary workers, and about half of American hospitals report using temps.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, workforce shortages have forced many hospitals to hire temporary staff. It's important to provide them with sufficient training and orientation to avoid similar issues in the future.  

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