Nurse scarcity at center of $2.7 million settlement

Shortages expected to increase

Becky Hartman rushed her mother, Shirley Keck, to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., in February 1998. Hartman claims her mother required constant medical supervision at the time, but didn't receive it. That evening, her mother slipped into a coma and today suffers from brain damage and partial paralysis.

A suit filed on her behalf alleges inadequate nurse staffing levels resulting from cost concerns; Wesley Medical Center has agreed to a $2.7 million settlement. Center executives did not discuss the suit, but indicate area hospitals are experiencing nurse shortages. As the federal government expects nurse demand to outpace supply in 10 years, suits such as Keck's may increase.