Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Lead to Resident Abuse and NeglectJanuary 10, 2022
A focus on profit and a shortage of qualified nurses and certified nursing assistants contribute to understaffing at nursing facilities. The high number of patients assigned to each staff member, the heavy emotional demands of the job, and often a lack of communication between coworkers as well as management may cause your loved one to be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Staff shortages in nursing homes can lead to inadequate attention for the residents, resulting in malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, and an increased likelihood of falls.
If someone you love is injured in a nursing home, or you suspect abuse and neglect, it is important to seek legal help from one of our Louisiana personal injury lawyers as soon as possible, so you can help protect the rights of your loved one.
At your free consultation, we can help you recognize the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse. We can also answer any questions you might have regarding filing a legal claim and pursuing justice for your elderly or disabled relative.
What Are the Causes of Understaffing in Nursing Homes?
Under federal law, nursing homes that are Medicare and Medicaid certified must provide enough staff to maintain all residents’ health according to each resident’s plan of care and assessment.
Louisiana law specifies that adequate staffing in a nursing home is determined by assessing every resident’s needs and providing the support they require based on their personal care plan.
However, nursing home operators frequently understaff to maximize their revenues. Approximately 70% of nursing homes nationwide are for profit, and the facilities with the highest profit margins typically have the lowest quality of care. Other primary reasons for understaffing include:
- Stress and mental pressure from frequent overtime and long hours: Over 48% of nurses leaving the field cite the excessive number of hours they are forced to work as their reason for leaving.
- Lack of qualified nurses with appropriate degrees and training: A 2014 study found over half of nursing homes in the United States did not have enough registered nurses and certified nursing assistants. A quarter of nursing homes also had dangerously low nursing staffing levels.
- High turnover (as a result of overworked staff): According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes have an average annual turnover rate of 128%.
Dangers of Understaffing
Nursing home management often pushes staff and medications to the maximum extent for as long as possible. For example, private equity-owned facilities have also increased the use of antipsychotic drugs by 50% to compensate for nurse staffing shortages. A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper found that patients who stay in a private equity firm-owned nursing facility after being hospitalized have a 10% greater risk of death.
When nursing homes lack proper training and are overburdened with residents, their services deteriorate. In addition to the lower quality of medical care, these are some of the major and life-threatening consequences of nursing home understaffing:
Falls and physical injuries
Between 50% to 75% of nursing home residents fall each year, which is double the rate of seniors in the community. The lack of adequate staff may lead to a resident being left alone in a situation that leads to them falling, such as residents with mobility issues walking on wet floors or attempting to go to the bathroom without help because no one comes when they call.
In the United States, nursing home residents take seven to eight different prescription drugs per month, with one-third of them taking nine or more. The most common causes of medication errors in nursing homes are inadequate training and poor communication between healthcare providers. Some nursing homes also fail to administer medication according to the residents’ care plans or give extra doses.
Nursing home abuse
A review of nine studies from six countries found that 64% of nursing home staff admitted assaulting residents. More than 33% of staff members self-reported psychological abuse. 14% reported physical abuse, while 12% admitted neglect.
Don’t Wait to Seek Justice for Your Loved One
Contact the Louisiana nursing home abuse injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier for a free consultation if you think your parent, grandparent, sibling, or someone else you love may be facing neglect and abuse from their caregivers due to staff shortages.
Our legal team can help you file a claim against the negligent nursing home and prevent further harm to your loved one.