PBS reports that most nursing homes are understaffed. A nursing home’s failure to hire enough qualified staff members, like registered nurses, causes harm to residents. If your loved one sustained harm or neglect while at a nursing home, understaffing might be partly to blame. The nursing home can be liable for harm that results from neglecting to hire enough personnel to care for the residents.
A lawyer who handles nursing home cases can help. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 to learn more about your legal options. The initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation.
How Understaffing in Nursing Homes Can Hurt Residents
People move into nursing homes because they need daily assistance with medical treatments and personal care, like eating, bathing, and dressing. If a facility fails to hire enough personnel to meet those needs, the residents can suffer from neglect.
Here are some examples of gaps in care that nursing home residents can experience because of inadequate staffing:
- Untreated wounds:Without treatment, wounds may become unclean, leading to infection, sepsis, and amputations.
- Irregular baths or showers:Staff members who do not bathe the individual daily can contribute to infections and other medical issues.
- Lack of movement: Some nursing home residents are bedridden, which means staff must move them periodically to prevent the development of bedsores.
- Lack of social activities:When staff members do not schedule social activities (or help residents get to those activities), residents may experience isolation, loneliness, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia.
- Failing to change residents’ clothing: Residents might wear the same unsanitary clothes day after day.
- Poor nutrition and dehydration:There might not be enough employees to help everyone who needs assistance at mealtimes. This can lead some residents to be malnourished or dehydrated.
- Chemical restraints:Burnt-out workers might resort to the improper use of medication to make residents docile. This is referred to as chemical restraint. Chemical restraints are illegal and dangerous.
- Resident-on-resident abuse: With a lack of supervision, abuse amongst residents can increase and escalate.
- Medication errors:Medication errors can increase if workers must rush through medication rounds. Employees without sufficient training to dispense drugs can also cause medication errors.
- Self-help: Residents may attempt to do things for themselves, such as walking to the bathroom alone, which can result in falls and other accidents.
- Abuse: Stressed and overworked medical staff may also abuse residents.
If your loved one experienced one of these situations or sustained a different type of harm, understaffing could be at the heart of the problem. When understaffing hurts residents, you can—and should—hold the facility liable for any losses you or your loved one incurred.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today if your loved one suffered neglect or abuse due to understaffing in a nursing home.
The Scope of The Problem
You cannot rely on the staffing report that a facility provides to you. A nursing home may claim to employ more employees like registered nurses than they actually do.
According to the PBS report, Kaiser Health News compared payroll records of over 14,000 nursing homes to staffing reports submitted by facilities to Medicare.
The report shows a discrepancy between the number of employees nursing homes claimed were on staff, and the number of people they actually hire.
For example, when a facility says it has 40 workers, that number is reflective of the day that has the highest number of employees working. The Kaiser News Report stated that on the day with the lowest staffing, there maybe half as many employees present. One nursing home mentioned had a resident-to-staff ratio of 18-1 on its lowest-staffed days. On its best-staffed days, there was one aide for every eight residents. The danger of inadequate or inconsistent staffing that could affect the residents’ needs remains the same every day.
Medicare does not require a certain number of staff members as it relates to residents. Medicare’s minimum standards do require at least one licensed nurse at a nursing home at all times—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nursing homes must hire a registered nurse on-site for eight hours a day.
Many facilities do not meet these minimum standards. If a failure to meet any standards related to staffing caused your loved one to suffer harm, we can help you hold the facility liable.
Getting Legal Help for a Claim Against a Nursing Home
If your loved one sustained harm while a resident at a nursing home, you may want to talk with a lawyer about whether understaffing was a cause or a contributing factor. The nursing home will likely have insurers and a defense team on its side. You do not want to handle this alone. A nursing home lawyer can fight on your behalf. We handle cases across the United States.
You will not need to pay upfront legal fees. We handle these cases on a contingent-fee basis. This means you pay us nothing unless and until we win your case.
Do not let the nursing home that abused your loved one go unpunished. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 for a free case evaluation. You should not have to pay medical bills and handle other losses due to preventable harm caused by understaffing at a nursing home.