Under-monitored residents in nursing homes have a direct link to under-staffing. As reported by Kaiser Health News, for every one registered nurse in a nonprofit nursing home, there were 28 residents. For every one registered nurse in a for-profit nursing home, which makes up 70% of all nursing homes in the United States, there were 43 residents.
Understaffed Nursing Homes
A recent study regarding data from more than 14,000 nursing homes confirmed the long-held suspicion of many families of nursing home residents that their elderly loved ones were under-monitored due to severe understaffing of nursing homes. This new data, required under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, showed that Medicare previously rated nursing homes based on unverified reports, which allowed nursing homes to fraudulently report hours worked by their employees. With 1.3 million nursing home residents in the United States, an emphasis should exist to not only correctly staff nursing homes but ensure that they report their staffing correctly to the federal government.
The staffing of a nursing home is directly proportional to the care received by the residents. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that when more registered nurses are present in a nursing home facility, licensed nursing home staff members spent an average of 15 more minutes per patient. This allowed the residents to receive better care and have their needs identified accurately and in a timely manner. The study also revealed that when the levels of trained staff increases, nursing homes thrive, and the monitoring of seniors increases. Conversely, as nursing home staff numbers decrease, each staff member spends less time with each resident. Therefore, under-monitoring or complete lack of monitoring of seniors exists for longer periods of time.
Dangers of Unsupervised Nursing Home Residents
When nursing homes suffer from understaffing, and the residents remain under-monitored, there is a direct relationship to the potential for abuse or neglect. Understaffing simply makes it challenging to provide the individualized care and supervision needed by many elderly seniors in nursing homes. When nursing homes suffer from understaffing, the remaining nursing home staff members must take care of more elderly residents, which can result in either neglecting residents’ needs or making errors related to a resident’s care.
If the nursing home staff seems overtaxed, frustrated, or exhausted, they may either neglect the nursing home residents or direct either physical, emotional, or verbal abuse towards them. While no current established guidelines or standards required by law for the staffing of nursing homes presently exist, Medicare requires that a registered nurse be present for a minimum of eight hours a day, and a licensed nurse on staff at all times. However, this minimum requirement does not resolve the true issue of complete understaffing of a nursing home, which leads to under-monitoring of seniors.
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Signs of Elder Abuse or Neglect
Elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes can take many forms, including both physical and emotional (psychological or mental) abuse. Understaffed nursing homes often leave seniors in nursing homes under-monitored, which may lead to the following signs of elder abuse.
- Weight gain or loss
Unsupervised seniors may harm themselves inadvertently due to a lack of adequate supervision, including bruising, internal injuries, burns, physical sores such as bedsores, broken eyeglasses, ripped or torn clothing, consequences from incorrect medication dosages, infections, broken or fractured bones, lack of personal hygiene, self-harm, failure to take medications, or fear of nursing home staff members.
There are many more signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect due to understaffing and under-monitoring of elderly residents. However, any change in physical appearance, unexplained injuries or infections, or changes in behavior could be a sign of elder abuse or neglect. If you cannot reach your elderly loved one by phone, or the nursing home staff prevents access to them in any way, you may want to consider if they suffered abuse. If a nursing home staff seems overwhelmed when you visit, or the nursing home seems understaffed, your elderly loved one may be inadequately monitored and suffer physically or emotionally due to lack of proper care.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer Today
Understaffing corresponds directly with seniors in nursing homes under-monitored, which often leads to physical and emotional injuries. If you believe your loved one is in danger, you should report any suspected neglect or abuse to the management and then to the appropriate state and federal agencies. If you suspect abuse or neglect of your loved one in a nursing home due to under-monitoring or understaffing, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336. We do not shy away from tough cases, and we work on a contingency basis. We can help you with your next steps.