It is never an easy decision for families to move an ill or elderly parent or relative into a nursing home. Most families do their due diligence in researching nursing homes so they can feel confident about the care that staff will provide for their loved ones. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are all too common, and when it happens, it can lead to trauma, illness, and even death. One reason for this is understaffing at nursing homes.
If you believe your loved one is suffering abuse or neglect because of a shortage of caregivers, you need an Atlanta understaffing lawyer. According to an article published by U.S. News & World Report, statistics collected by Medicare show that in 2018 show that one licensed nursing caregiver had anywhere from 17 to 33 patients for whom to provide care on any given day.
If your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse that resulted from understaffing, your family deserves justice. Call the office of an Atlanta understaffing lawyer to find out more. To learn more about what Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to do in your situation, call us to set up a free consultation with a team member.
Georgia State Law on Nursing Home Regulations and Staffing
Like most states, Georgia has specific laws surrounding the minimum number of staff at nursing homes, per Georgia Nursing Services regulations, § 111-8-56, and the Bill of Rights, § 111-8-50. Legislators put these regulations into place to help ensure that nursing home residents have a clean, safe, and comfortable environment. They include the following:
- Patients have a right to privacy. Unless a physician has instructed otherwise for health and safety reasons, patients have a right to close curtains and close doors. For those patients, staff should knock before seeking entrance to a room. Residents also have a right to send and receive personal mail.
- Patients have freedom of choice when it comes to accepting medical treatment. The same holds true for religious practice.
- Patients have a right to nutritious meals prepared by a dietician. There should be no more than five hours between meals and no more than 14 hours between dinner and breakfast the next morning. Snacks should also be available.
- Patients have a right to be free of both physical and medical restraints, as long as they are not a danger to themselves or others. If restraints are ordered by a physician, then healthcare workers must note the specifics as to the reason for the restraints.
Filing a Complaint with a Nursing Home
Residents and their families may file complaints with nursing homes in writing. The administrator must respond to the complaint—and address it—within three business days. If there is no resolution at that time, the administrator must respond in writing. Patients and patient guardians who are not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint can next reach out to an ombudsman, which is a government-appointed investigator.
If there is no resolution of the situation through an ombudsman, patients and their families can contact a nursing abuse lawyer, such as Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. When a loved one in a nursing home is in this situation, call us for a free review of your case.
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Understaffed Nursing Homes Can Lead to Abuse or Neglect
Working as a caregiver in a nursing home is difficult work that often does not pay very well. There is often high turnover, and nursing homes can struggle to ensure there is enough staff to provide appropriate patient care. But the consequences of understaffing at nursing homes can be serious and can lead to patient neglect, mistakes with medications, and lack of infection control.
Nursing homes are required by Georgia law to have an appropriate resident-to-staff ratio. When nursing homes are understaffed, patient care suffers. For example:
- Patients who need to be adjusted regularly to avoid bedsores may be neglected.
- Routine bathing might be skipped, leading to poor hygiene at best and a higher risk of infection at worst.
- Patients might experience falls if there is no one around to provide assistance when needed.
- Reports on changes in patient health might not be noted in a timely manner.
In addition to being understaffed, nursing homes might turn to undertrained caregivers because they need employees. This, too, can lead to nursing home abuse or neglect.
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Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Families who have a loved one in a nursing home should be on the alert for abuse or neglect every time they visit. The most common types of nursing abuse include physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and financial exploitation. Some of the signs families should look for include:
- If you have to wait for an unreasonably long time to see your loved one, this could mean staff are trying to cover up something they do not want you to see.
- A staff member remains in the room during your visit, seemingly reluctant to leave you alone with the patient.
- You notice unusual behavior changes in your family member, such as anxiety or fear around a staff member, listlessness, or depression.
- Your loved one has unexplained broken bones, sprains, or other injuries that could be indicative of abuse.
- You observe bedsores, weight loss, or infections that could be a sign of nursing home neglect.
- Unsanitary conditions are evident in the lobby, hallways, and patient room.
- You discover there are missing valuables, new accounts, credit cards, or other changes in financial status.
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Consider the Help of an Atlanta Understaffing Lawyer
If your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse because of nursing home understaffing, and you are considering legal action, you should speak to someone on our Atlanta understaffing lawyer team. The laws surrounding nursing home abuse can be complicated, and the experience can be highly emotional when a loved one is going through this, but the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to help.
Call us today to learn more about the next steps that might be available. The sooner you act, the sooner you can help protect your loved one.