Nurse Accidentally Drives Off The Edge Of A Parking Garage Because She Was So 'Exhausted' By Her Work Schedule

It's a horrifying story. But nurses say it isn't remotely surprising.

Exhausted Nurse Robert Kneschke / Canva Pro

Nursing is an incredibly difficult profession that often comes with punishingly long hours. And with an ever-growing nursing shortage in America, not to mention the increasing greed of our corporatized for-profit healthcare system, conditions for many nurses are only getting worse.

For one Boston nurse, the outsized demands of the job very nearly resulted in tragedy, and it has people in the field calling out what can happen when medical personnel are unable to get sufficient sleep.


An exhausted nurse drove off the top of a parking garage after a punishingly long shift.

The incident occurred in the middle of the night on May 17 in the parking deck at Faulkner Hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. The nurse told first responders she was "exhausted" after finishing a long nursing shift — after which she was scheduled to be on-call again at 11 p.m.

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Rather than go home and likely be roused out of bed to go back to work, she decided to sleep in her car instead. At 1 a.m., she awoke to move her car away from lights disturbing her sleep. 

But she was so exhausted that she confused the gas and brake pedals, accidentally gunning her Jeep Cherokee over the parking deck's edge, tumbling onto a shed, and rolling onto a grassy area nearby.

The nurse suffered potentially life-altering injuries in the crash, breaking both her back and her arm and injuring her legs, according to a police report.

It's unknown exactly what conditions led to the accident, but a spokesperson for the Mass General Brigham health system, Faulkner's parent company, says an investigation is ongoing. They added that employees sleeping in their cars is "against policy" and the nurse should have been offered an on-call room at the hospital.


Long hours and burnout among nurses are so pronounced they have led to a nationwide nursing shortage.

The nursing profession was already struggling before the pandemic, but the events that began in 2020 have only deepened the widespread problems nurses face on the job.

A 2023 study found that burnout from the pandemic among nurses is acute, with 45% saying they feel "burnout" multiple times a week, if not every day, and nearly 50% reporting constant fatigue.

@bribrithenurse Being really vulnerable which is hard for me! I love nursing. I love being a nurse. I am always as positive as I can be about it, and I am new grads number one fans. But burnout is real, and burnout is something that should be talked about. Any tips and love is always appreciated #nurse #nurseburnout #mentahealth #mentalhealthmatters #dayinthelife #dayinmylife #vlog #nursevlog #ernurse #nurses #travelnurse #nursetok ♬ A Day in My Life - Soft boy

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This comes amid the widespread traumatization of nurses during the height of the pandemic, which has resulted in high rates of mental health conditions like PTSD and anxiety. A nurse I know, for example, is still, four years later, having weekly nightmares about the dying COVID-19 patient she was forced to house in a filthy custodial closet because the hospital was overrun.

The pandemic years have also brought the highest incidence of violence and assault toward nurses by patients and their families ever recorded.

With no time to heal from these traumas, they have surely been exacerbated by poor working conditions. And it has all combined to result in nurses leaving the profession in droves.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, roughly 100,000 nurses resigned between 2021 and 2023, and another 610,388 reported planning to leave the profession by 2027. However, experts say that with more and more baby boomers reaching retirement age, these numbers only tell part of the story.


Nurses are holding up the Boston woman's accident as an example of how working conditions make personnel and patients unsafe.

It goes without saying that a nurse being so exhausted that she mixes up the gas and brake pedals is not only dangerous for her but the patients she serves. Sadly, her situation is absolutely not unique or unexpected.

Nursing shifts of 12 hours or more are common in many hospitals and, unsurprisingly, are highly correlated with burnout, patient dissatisfaction, and, most importantly, increased errors by nurses. With medication administration accounting for roughly 40% of a nurse's work, those errors are potentially deadly.

The woman's incident in Boston has inspired nurses on social media to call for change in the industry — especially because they pretty much unanimously agree that there is nothing surprising about the incident. "Unfortunately, most of us have been there in similar situations," one nurse on TikTok said.


Nurses have not only called out the punishingly long hours but also the lateness and time-off procedures that exacerbate the problems. "The attendance/tardiness policies are so punitive that we push ourselves past what is safe," another nurse wrote on TikTok.

At the core of this problem, of course, is the for-profit nature of America's bizarre healthcare system. When you treat medical care like a business, you end up with labor practices focused on saving money instead of saving lives. And as this incident highlights, it is needlessly endangering patients and working people nearly to death. 


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.