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Is understaffing a basis for medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Healthcare providers owe a duty of care to their patients. This duty of care includes providing competent and appropriate medical treatment, given the patient’s unique medical condition and needs.

Meeting those needs may be challenging when there isn’t sufficient staffing in a healthcare setting, whether that setting is a hospital or nursing home. There are times when understaffing may serve as a partial basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

There are three elements needed to prove medical malpractice. Each element must be proven, not just one.

Duty of Care

The first element required for a successful medical malpractice claim is a duty of care owed by the healthcare provider to the patient. They are to provide competent and appropriate medical treatment given the patient’s medical condition and needs. A breach of this duty can support a finding of medical malpractice.

Standard of Care

The second element required for proving medical malpractice is a breach of the standard of care, which refers to the level of care a reasonable and prudent healthcare provider would provide under similar circumstances. If it is determined that the defendant fell below this standard and failed to render adequate treatment, then they may be liable for medical malpractice.


The third element involves showing that if not for the improper action or omission made by the defendant, no injury would have occurred to the plaintiff. This means that even if it can be established that there was a breach on behalf of the healthcare provider, if it didn’t cause the patient’s harm, the provider cannot be held liable for their approach.

Therefore, understaffing can be a basis for medical malpractice if a patient is harmed because a healthcare provider failed to provide a proper standard of care when they had a duty to do so. If you may be in a position to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, it is time to seek legal guidance so that you can make informed decisions about your situation.