Article Updated:  April 4, 2022


Overworked Nurses Mistakes

Staffing issues are almost always a cause of why nursing home residents are hurt.  When a greedy nursing home wants to make more money, they under staff their facility.  In turn, this makes the existing staff run in circles and be stretched thing.

The result?  Overworked nurses mistakes that hurt elderly residents who rely on those nurses for food, water, toileting, and general safety.

Below, you learn how and why overworked nurses make mistakes resulting from these under-staffing issues.

If you want me to review your nursing home case for free, my contact information is at the bottom of this page, and I invite you to reach out.

Why Do Nurses Make Mistakes?

Nurses are one of the most important members of any medical facility and have more contact with patients than anyone else will.

These nurses are responsible for helping patients in nearly all aspects of care and in order to offer the best care, nurses need rest and clear state of mind.

When nurses are overworked, stressed out or fatigued, they make mistakes that can cost lives.

An overworked nurse makes more mistakes on average than a nurse who is able to balance their work and personal lives so that they have time to recover mentally, emotionally and physically from their shifts.

Why do overworked nurses make mistakes?  Some common reasons are:

  Overworked nurses are tired which impacts decision making

  These nurses cannot handle the additional stress

 When stressed out, nurses judgment becomes clouded

 Attention is not given to the details of the job

 Nurses are forced to make decisions with less energy and time

Nurses do not make mistakes in these cases because they are careless, but because the demands placed on them leave them less time and energy to do their jobs as well as they could.

Nonetheless, these overworked nurses make mistakes that often cause patients in hospitals and nursing homes to get hurt.  Importantly, most of these injuries are and were avoidable if the greedy medical companies properly staffed their facility.

Overworked Nurses Mistakes from Lack of Sleep

When nurses are overworked, one of the biggest causes of their mistakes is that they do not get enough sleep.

Multiple studies have found that many nurses mistakes are due to the high levels of fatigue and sleeplessness they suffer.

In one survey of sleep deprivation nearly 50% of nurses reported insomnia and another 50% exceeded the threshold for compared to the general population.

In Pennsylvania reported that long term sleep deprivation in nursing and medical staff led to major issues like sleep disorders and serious psychological distress which led to burnout, fatigue and impacted the ability to provide efficient clinical help to patients.

Even more concerning, lack of sleep was linked to health professionals being incapable of handling stressful or critical medical situations which placed their patients at serious risk of injury.

Fatigue Makes Dealing With Stress Hard

Nurses who are overworked find it difficult to cope with their increased workload because they lack the needed energy to handle stress.

Overworked Nurses Mistakes

A nurses job will at the same time be filled with near daily stressors which means that ultimately, a nurse who is fatigued cannot handle the most basic aspects of their jobs.

The results are medication mistakes, incomplete medical records and incomplete patient information being recorded.

The biggest recommendation made to deal with these problems has been to decrease nurses workloads, a suggestion that has often gone ignored.

Mandatory Workloads Lead To Aggravated Nurses

In many cases nurses are not requested to work more than they can or should work, but are made to work extra shifts or longer than usual shifts.

When the nurses are overworked and placed in this position, they have less time to interact with patients, less time to bond and connect, and less time to show care to patients.

When their situations are this stressful, nurses can miss small signs of distress that can be indicating major problems are developing and this leads to injury and death.

Nurses who are forced into shifts that they did not want to work have more shiftwork-related problems including mental health problems and even stomach problems.

The most common problems when nurses are forced into overworking and on shifts they do not want to work include:

  Psychological disorders found in 96.4% of those nurses

  Digestive problems in 81%

Nurses who were given a choice in their schedules and had voluntarily selected their shift work showed significantly “higher job satisfaction as compared to those who were forced to work on shifts” which directly impacts their results with patients and their personal health.

Overworked Nurses Have Less Time To Help Patients

Nurses are not only overworked by being asked to work more hours and shifts than they should work, but also by being given too many responsibilities and patients to care for on their shifts.

One survey found that 100% of nurses interviewed felt a great deal of stress when they were told to care for more than one patient at a time.

When nurses are burdened with too many patients, do not have support and are asked to do too much during their shifts there are consequences.

This is particularly true in high stress intensive care units (ICU) where nurses frequently report

high levels negative impact on their health and well-being.

Critical care nurses in particular have stated that due to stress and being overworked, they have less time to help their patients effectively, because they are spread too thin amongst too many patients.

In situations like this, the patients suffer and the nurses suffer, leaving both at risk of potentially dangerous health impacts.

Overworked Nurses Have Weakened Culture Of Patient Safety

Overworked nurses also make mistakes because the situation of working too much creates an entire culture in which patient safety is eroded.

ICU nurses who experienced high overall workloads, physical demands on them, and mental demands were also found to have a poor grade on their perceptions on patient safety culture.

What this shows is that when nurses are overworked, they become fatigued and aggravated and this creates less care and less attention for patient safety and best practices.

When the entire organizational culture of the nurses are impacted like this, it means that it is not just the nurses who are overworked who make more mistakes, but all the nurses in general.

Overworking Nurses Causes Them Health Problems  

Overworked nurses do not only potentially cause problems for their patients, but they themselves also are impacted in detrimental manners.

Overworked nurses mistakes and healthWhen nurses fail to get the sleep they need and are stretched too thin, many health problems arise in them.

These nurses become more prone to many medical issues and these issues make doing their jobs harder.

This leaves the nurses even less able to provide proper care for their patients.

Physical Health Problems Caused By Being Overworked

Lack of sleep and being overworked causes physical problems that impact nurses in the short-term as well as the long-term.  The list of what can go wrong physically is long, but some of the most common physical ailments in nurses who are overworked are:

Higher blood pressure

Higher risk of strokes and heart attacks

Coronary Heart Disease

Poor balance

Mental & Emotional Problems Caused By Being Overworked

While it may not show on the surface like physical problems, mental and emotional problems also impact overworked nurses in serious ways.

The list of emotional and mental health problems caused by being overworked is even longer than the list of physical ailments.

Nurses who are overworked often exhibit signs of:



Mood changes

Memory issues

Q&A On Nursing Mistakes

How often do overworked nurses make mistakes?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), anywhere from 36%-47% of overworked nurses made mistakes and failed to see serious changes in their patients health.  This creates a breeding ground for mistakes.

What kinds of mistakes do nurses make when they are stretched too thin?

Nurses who are tired make mistakes when dispensing medications, when checking vitals and most importantly, with regards to monitoring the condition of patients and noticing changes in their health and progress.

How is sleep deprivation linked to nurses making mistakes on the job?

Sleep deprivation causes nurses to become more aggravated, less capable of critical thinking, gives them mood swings and clouds their ability to make sound judgements.  All of these cause them to be more prone to making mistakes.

What causes overworked nurses to make mistakes?

The major causes of overworked nurses making mistakes are rooted in the diminished mental and emotional capacity they have to make good decisions.  When nurses are forced to work too many shifts, longer than usual shifts, and are given multiple patients to care for, they rush through decisions quickly, which leads to their mistakes.

Do overworked nurses cause patients harm?

Yes, overworked nurses can cause harm to patients and these mistakes can lead to serious injury as well as death.

Do overworked nurses have a personal impact on me?

Yes, if you are left in the care of an overworked nurse, you or a loved one may find yourselves on the receiving end of their mistakes.  These mistakes can harm you and cause serious injury that you can potentially be compensated for.

Did A Nurse’s Mistake Harm You?

Overworked nurses make mistakes and these mistakes can impact you and your family.  It is not fair that you or your family should suffer the consequences of under-staffing and poor scheduling that leads to nurses making mistakes.

If you have been impacted negatively because an overworked nurse made a mistake that harmed you or a loved one, you will need help knowing what you should do to make sure the bad medical facility changes its habits and to get justice for your injured family or friend.

One phone call can help you get answers with a free consultation.  I am here to help you 24/7, whenever you are ready.

Just send me a private message via the contact form on this page.  Alternatively, you can email me directly via my personal email.


Reza Davani, Esq.
State Bar No.:     1212110211
Federal Bar No.: 30168

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Shihundla, R. C., Lebese, R. T., & Maputle, M. S. (2016). Effects of increased nurses’ workload on quality documentation of patient information at selected Primary Health Care facilities in Vhembe District, Limpopo ProvinceCurationis39(1), 1-8.

Alrabae, Y. M. A., Aboshaiqah, A. E., & Tumala, R. B. (2021). The association between self‐reported workload and perceptions of patient safety culture: A study of intensive care unit nursesJournal of Clinical Nursing30(7-8), 1003-1017.

Zdanowicz, T., Turowski, K., Celej-Szuster, J., Lorencowicz, R., & Przychodzka, E. (2020). Insomnia, sleepiness, and fatigue among polish nursesWorkplace Health & Safety68(6), 272-278.

Kousloglou, S. A., Mouzas, O. D., Bonotis, K., Roupa, Z., Vasilopoulos, A., & Angelopoulos, N. V. (2014). Insomnia and burnout in Greek Nurses. Hippokratia18(2), 150.

Kibria, M. G. (2018). Prevalence of stress and coping mechanism among staff nurses of intensive care unit in a selected hospitalInt J Neurosurg2(1), 8-12.

Khammar, A., Amjad, R., Rohani, M., Yari, A., Noroozi, M., Poursadeghian, A., … & Poursadeghiyan, M. (2017). Survey of shift work disorders and occupational stress among nurses: A cross-sectional study. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health10(4).

About the Author

This nursing home and medical malpractice article was written by Baltimore, Maryland nursing home attorney Reza Davani, Esquire.  Mr. Davani received his Juris Doctor degree from a Tier 1 law school, the University of Maryland Francs King Carey School of Law.  He received his first license to practice law from the State of Maryland’s Court of Appeals (MD State License No. 1212110211), and just four months later received a federal law license from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland (Federal License No. 30168).

Mr. Davani has been practicing law for over 10 years.  He began practicing law by helping clients as a sanctioned student lawyer before receiving his law license, and second chaired his first jury trial in federal court before even graduating law school.  He is a registered member of the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Association for Justice (AAJ), and was formerly on the MAJ’s Legislative Leader’s Circle.

Mr. Davani has taken over 20 cases to trial in state and federal court, and favorably settled well over 100 cases for injured victims.  He has personally helped his clients recover over $15,000,000 in personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse settlements and verdicts in Maryland and other states.  He is dedicated to fighting for justice, and welcomes the opportunity to help you.

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