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The Relation Between Staffing Issues and Nursing Home Negligence


Nursing home negligence is a serious and distressing issue that occurs when the care provided by nursing home staff falls below the accepted standard, leading to harm or risk of harm to residents. This form of neglect encompasses a variety of failures, including not adhering to the duty of care that healthcare providers must follow. Essentially, it involves failing to provide the necessary services and interventions that prevent or minimize the risk of harm to residents.

Examples of nursing home negligence are sadly common and varied. They include improper care, such as failing to turn bedridden patients regularly, leading to pressure sores or ulcers. Medication errors are another significant form of negligence, where residents may receive incorrect dosages or the wrong medication altogether, potentially causing severe adverse reactions or health complications. Inadequate supervision also constitutes negligence, particularly when it results in falls or elopement (residents wandering away from the facility), which can have tragic outcomes.

The root of many of these issues often ties back to the staffing levels within the facility. Adequate staffing is crucial because each resident requires a certain amount of care, which can only be provided if the facility has enough qualified staff. Even the most dedicated caregivers can be stretched too thin when staffing levels are insufficient, increasing the risk of errors and oversights.

At Rourke & Blumenthal, we advocate for the rights and well-being of nursing home residents in Columbus. Please call us at (614) 321-3212 or submit an online form to schedule a consultation.

Causes of Nursing Home Understaffing

Staffing levels in nursing homes are a pivotal factor that significantly impacts the quality of care residents receive. Unfortunately, many facilities face chronic understaffing issues due to several complex factors. One primary reason is the lack of applicants interested in positions within these facilities. The demanding nature of the job and often uncompetitive pay deter many potential candidates from pursuing or continuing careers in this field.

Additionally, some nursing homes experience intentional understaffing as a cost-saving measure by management. This short-sighted approach compromises patient care and places undue stress on existing staff, potentially exacerbating the problem.

Another contributing factor to staffing shortages is high staff turnover, frequently driven by over-scheduling and the overwhelming responsibilities assigned to the caregivers. These conditions can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction, prompting staff to leave for less demanding positions elsewhere.

How Staffing Levels Can Impact Patient Care

When nursing home staffing is inadequate, the repercussions can be severe, affecting every aspect of care provided to residents. Overwhelmed and underpaid staff members are more prone to intentional and unintentional neglect and abuse. Stressed caregivers operating in a high-pressure environment with insufficient support are more likely to become impatient and quick to anger, which can lead to inadequate care or, in the worst cases, abuse.

Below are examples of how insufficient staffing can impact resident care:

  • Improper physical handling of residents. Safety protocols might dictate that two staff members lift or transfer a resident safely to prevent falls or injuries. However, understaffed facilities might only have one caregiver available, leading to situations where residents are dropped or improperly handled.
  • Lack of timely assistance. Inadequate staffing might lead to residents trying to move without help, resulting in preventable falls.
  • Development of ulcers or bedsores. These injuries occur when residents, particularly those who are bedridden, are not turned or repositioned frequently enough, a task that requires adequate staffing to manage.
  • Neglect of basic hygiene needs. Hygiene needs, such as regular bathing and dental care, can be neglected without adequate staffing, leading to a decline in residents' overall health and well-being.
  • Jeopardized nutritional needs. With insufficient hands to ensure that each resident is properly fed and hydrated, issues like weight loss and dehydration can become commonplace, severely impacting the health and recovery of residents.

Empowering Families: How to Address Instances of Neglect in Nursing Homes

Families are encouraged to be vigilant and proactive in advocating for the rights and well-being of their loved ones.

If you suspect that staffing inadequacies are compromising the care of a resident, it's important to take decisive steps. Record any signs of neglect or issues that seem to stem from understaffing. Contact law enforcement if you have a serious concern, especially if your loved one has been hurt. Additionally, report suspected neglect or abuse to state or federal regulatory agencies.

Consult a personal injury lawyer to discuss the possibility of legal action against the facility for neglect or abuse. An attorney can help assess the situation, guide you through filing a claim, and work towards pursuing compensation for the harm caused.

If you observe signs of inadequate care due to staffing issues, discuss your legal options with Rourke & Blumenthal by contacting us at (614) 321-3212. We provide representation in Columbus.

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