FREE Consultation (866) 848-7077

How Do Understaffed Nursing Homes Affect Patients?

Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Apr 28, 2017 in Nursing Home Abuse

neglected nursing home residentFederal and state laws require nursing homes to provide quality care to their residents to help them maintain or enhance their quality of life. Unfortunately, a lot of facilities do not have enough staff members to consistently provide the care that nursing home residents need.

Understaffing of nursing homes increases the likelihood of residents suffering some form of nursing home abuse or neglect, including:

  • Dehydration or malnutrition – Some residents may not be able to eat or drink without assistance. In an understaffed facility, these residents may not receive the attention they need to ensure their nutritional needs are met.
  • Medication errors – This includes failing to administer a resident’s medications or doing so improperly.
  • Poor personal hygiene – Staff members need to ensure that residents are bathed and groomed regularly. They also need to ensure residents get help using the bathroom if they are incontinent or have trouble going on their own. Failure to help residents with these things can lead to dangerous infections. Poor personal hygiene also deprives residents of their personal dignity.
  • Physical abuse – In an understaffed facility, staff members have a limited amount of time to care for each patient. This often leads to staff members being overly forceful when moving residents in their beds or putting them in wheelchairs, which can lead to injuries.
  • Bedsores – Some nursing home residents have limited mobility. Staff members need to make sure these residents are moved around regularly, otherwise bedsores can develop. If left untreated for too long, bedsores can cause dangerous infections.
  • Neglect – Several previously mentioned forms of abuse could be considered neglect, which also has emotional and psychological consequences. If residents do not receive enough attention from staff members, they can feel depressed and isolated.     
  • Falls – This is one of the leading causes of injuries in nursing homes. If a resident tries to get up unaccompanied when he or she needs help, it increases the likelihood that he or she will fall and suffer serious injury. Nursing homes need to have enough staff members to ensure residents with these mobility issues receive the attention they need.

Federal Guidelines on Nursing Home Staff

Federal laws regarding nursing homes require any facility receiving funding from Medicare or Medicaid to provide 24-hour licensed nursing service that is sufficient to meet its residents’ needs.

Facilities must also use a registered professional nurse for at least eight consecutive hours per day, seven days a week.

These requirements are waived only if a facility meets certain requirements:

  • The facility is in a rural area where the supply of skilled nursing facility services is limited and cannot meet the needs of individuals residing there.
  • The facility has a full-time registered nurse who is on duty 40 hours per week on a regular basis.
  • The facility only has patients who do not require a registered nurse or physician for a 48-hour period.
  • The facility made arrangements for a registered professional nurse or physician to provide care residents need on the days when a regular full-time professional nurse is not present.

If the facility fits one of these exceptions, it must notify residents and members of their families.  

Reasons for Understaffing

Sadly, some nursing facilities are short-staffed on purpose and are more focused on making and saving money than providing quality care. One of the quickest ways to save money is to keep labor costs low by not hiring more staff members.

In some cases, facilities have a hard time finding enough properly-trained professionals who can provide adequate care for residents. This can lead to staff members working overtime to meet the needs of residents, causing patient care to suffer.

If your loved one has suffered nursing home abuse, contact the nursing home negligence attorneys of D'Amico & Pettinicchi for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

We will review your situation to determine if you have a legitimate case. If you do, we will immediately begin an in-depth investigation to find out what happened. We will build the strongest case possible so your loved one has a chance to recover fair compensation for the damages he or she has suffered.

Contact our firm now by calling (866) 848-7077 or filling out a Free Case Evaluation form.