Patient rights, nurse wrongs

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The hidden cost of belt-tightening in healthcare may be your life. Overworked, undertrained, and sometimes drug-addicted or incompetent nurses have contributed to the deaths of at least 1,700 people in the Chicago area in the past five years, and most of those nurses are still on the job, according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

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The Tribune investigation reveals that, due to lax government oversight and inadequate procedures for reporting medical errors, nurses involved in patient fatalities — some overworked, others drug-addicted or glaringly incompetent — have been allowed to return to work without penalty or investigation. Among the Tribune’s findings: Three-fourths of the nearly 1,000 case files against nurses closed since 1995 were missing the most basic information, such as the nature of the violation and whether the patient was harmed.

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