When “Worked to Death” is NOT a Hyperbole

You hear it all the time, and you have probably said it yourself: “my boss is working me to death!”  Most people don’t mean it literally – we don’t think we are going to actually pass away at our desks.

For one Ohio couple, however, the common complaint turned out to be tragically accurate.  Beth Jasper was a hardworking nurse at a hospital which, like so many others, was chronically understaffed.  Nurses at the hospital often had to work through breaks and pick up extra shifts.  Even after a grueling 12-hour day, they might be called back to work when they were supposed to be off duty because no other qualified staff were available.  As many nurses know, the problem is a common one.  According to National Nurses United, staff shortages and overextended shifts for nurses are rampant throughout hospitals around the country.

On March 16, two years of being run ragged by the hospital caught up with Beth Jasper, who apparently fell asleep at the wheel trying to come home from yet another 12-hour shift.  Ms. Jasper’s did not survive the resulting crash, and her husband is now suing the hospital for causing her death.

Beth Jasper’s husband believes that the fatigue caused by the hospital overworking his wife contributed to the tragic accident.  Mr. Jasper’s lawsuit says that the hospital’s parent company was repeatedly made aware of the understaffing problems and did nothing to help its employees.  Even Ms. Jasper’s supervisor expressed concerns to her own superiors that Ms. Jasper was being “worked to death,” but the hospital refused to deal with the staffing issue.

Mr. Jasper is adamant that things need to change; that hospitals must stop understaffing hospitals and overworking nurses.  National Nurses United agrees, saying that both nurses and patients suffer when hospitals overextend their nursing staff.  To combat the problem, the union and other groups have pushed for safe staffing legislation around the country.  Perhaps new laws, and better enforcement of protections for workers that are already on the books, will keep other nurses from being, like Beth Jasper, literally worked to death.