Patient Death Puts Spotlight on Replacement Nurses

October 4, 2011

In an ad on Facebook, a company seeking stand-ins for nurses planning a walkout encouraged applicants to what it termed “join us for all the fun on this strike.”

Days later, a patient at Oakland’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, who was under the care of a so-called traveling nurse, died from an apparent medical error.

The death in late September has led nurses’ union officials to question the competency of the replacements, claiming the hospital did not give them adequate training before allowing them to care for patients.

Though hospital officials reject the claim, the controversy puts into focus the use of the traveling nurses.

These itinerate nurses are not only hired in strike situations, but hospitals across the country deploy them a few months at a time for all sorts of staffing needs.

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