There is a correlation between a nursing home’s lack of proper staffing levels and the residents’ quality of care. According to the journal Health Service Insights, more than 150 individual studies of nursing home staffing levels show that the quality of care improves as the number of qualified nurses increases.
This relationship is not hard to understand. As staffing levels fall, the number of patients a nurse must oversee will rise. By paying additional attention to each individual resident, a staff member is more likely to notice signs of health issues and avoid mistakes.
If you believe your loved one has suffered health complications due to nursing home understaffing, they could be entitled to a monetary award. A Louisville understaffing lawyer can review your loved one’s case and assist throughout the legal process. To learn more, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to speak with a member of our team today.
The Scope of Understaffing in American Nursing Homes
Understaffing is a rampant issue in American nursing homes. In fact, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) reports that many nursing homes have even fewer staff members than what they report to the government.
This is problematic, as the federal government has recognized the link between resident care and staffing levels. The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 requires that nursing homes maintain adequate staff to address their residents’ specific health needs. However, the law does not provide hard number requirements or a specific ratio of residents to staff.
Signs of Understaffing
The existence of staffing issues might not be immediately noticeable to the friends and families of a nursing home resident. After all, not every incident of low staff levels will have a dangerous or notable result. However, vigilant family and friends could pick up on some of the warning signs that a nursing home is facing understaffing issues. Some of these signs include:
- Fear. Nursing home residents often show fear at the suggestion of contacting nursing home staff. This is often related to abusive responses from frustrated and overworked staff.
- Bedsores. One of a nursing home worker’s basic responsibilities is to rotate residents with mobility issues to avoid pressure sores. When these bedsores occur, it is often a sign that the staff did not have time to attend to the patient’s needs.
- Malnutrition. Seniors often fail to get enough to drink or eat due to understaffing. Overwhelmed staff might struggle to ensure every resident gets each meal.
- Poor hygiene. A common sign of understaffing is the lack of hygiene. Nursing home residents frequently miss baths due to understaffing issues.
If you have experienced these signs, it may be time to speak with an attorney. The team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help your family address the damage of understaffing by pursuing legal action against the nursing home. A Louisville understaffing lawyer can help you file a claim for compensation against the responsible nursing home or staff member.
For a free legal consultation with a Louisville Understaffing Lawyer serving Louisville, call (800) 794-0444
Risks of Understaffing
There are many reasons why a large portion of America’s nursing homes remain chronically understaffed. At their core, most of these issues occur as the result of mismanagement and poor administrative decision making. No matter the specific cause, the nursing home owners and administrators could face liability for any injuries or illnesses that result from understaffing. Common understaffing risks include:
- Poor training. The number of employees in the building might not mean much if they are poorly trained. Inadequate training can render employees useless and, in some cases, do more harm than good.
- Fatigue. When a nursing home is understaffed, those employees on duty attempt to make up for the gaps in care. By doing more than their share of the work, these employees risk fatigue. This is dangerous, given that fatigue frequently breeds mistakes.
- Unable to protect residents. Some residents represent a threat to the safety of other residents. Additionally, other residents are more likely to leave the facility without authorization when the staff is unable to watch them. Understaffing exacerbates these issues.
- Neglect. Few nursing home employees set out to see their patients lack basic hygiene, medical care, or nutritional needs. Unfortunately, understaffing can spread these employees so thin they fail to meet the needs of every resident.
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Common Causes of Understaffing
Most understaffing issues are financial in one way or another. While nursing homes might point to the difficulty of hiring and retaining qualified nurses, the struggle typically stems from the inadequate compensation these facilities offer. Low salaries and poor benefits often push qualified nurses and other staff members to accept other employment opportunities.
The same factors that make it difficult for nursing homes to find qualified employees also make it challenging for them to retain them. Eventually, underpaid staff will look for other options.
Often, understaffing occurs as an intentional cost-cutting measure. Profit-driven nursing homes will cut the labor hours each week to keep those costs low. The flip side is that their facility is understaffed, which can result in a host of safety and health issues.
The work itself is also a deterrent for many qualified workers. There is no doubt that providing care in a nursing home environment can be challenging. This challenge is not for everyone. Even when the pay is adequate, some employees will leave due to issues like poor working conditions, careless hiring practices, or inadequate training.
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Your Loved One Could Recover Compensation for Their Injuries Due to Understaffing
Understaffing represents one of the most significant risks to the health and safety of nursing home residents. If the lack of proper staff levels has resulted in your loved one’s nursing home injuries, do not hesitate to contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm right away.
With the help of a Louisville understaffing lawyer, your family member could hold the nursing home accountable for its negligent care. To learn more, call (800) 842-6336 to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.