More than 6,500 nurses have presented “excuses of responsibility”

Liability waivers have increased five-fold since last November

More than 6,500 nurses in Portugal have put in requests for ‘excuse of responsibility’ (or liability waivers) due to what they claim to be a lack of staff to ensure the safety and quality of Portuguese healthcare.

The majority of requests have come from hospitals in Leiria and Caldas da Rainha, says the Nurses’ Order (Ordem dos Enfermeiros).

Publishing new figures today, the Order stresses ‘excuse of liability’ requests have increased five-fold since last November.

“At issue is the degradation of services, mainly due to the lack of nurses, which leads to non-compliance with safe staffing levels, calling into question the quality and safety of care provided,” it says in a statement.

To date 6,541 nurses have resorted to the only avenue of protest available beyond all-out striking. That number has increased by almost 1,000 since June (when 5,567 requests had been logged).

“In the Centre region alone, requests for waivers have risen to 4,500, mainly due to situations in Leiria and Caldas da Rainha,” says the Order.

The southern region, with a total of 1,726 liability waivers, is the second most affected area, with Algarve hospitals leading the way, followed by the Lisbon North University Hospital Centre.

Fernando da Fonseca Hospital, also known as Amadora-Sintra, and Setúbal have also submitted a large number of waivers, says Lusa.

In the North, another 132 nurses have joined the lists, while the Azores sees 128 unhappy nurses, and Madeira 37.

Explains Lusa, the Nurses Order gave its members the option of presenting ‘excuses of responsibility’ as a way of preventing possible disciplinary, civil or even criminal actions on the part of patients in their charge.

Citing international studies, the Order stated that “for each excess patient in the care of a nurse, mortality in hospitals  increases by 7%.”

Source: Lusa