Understaffing at Nursing Homes
All nursing homes in the United States must provide a sufficient nursing home staff in order to meet the health needs and requirements of its patient population. When administrative or corporate decisions are made to understaff a facility, it can subject the corporation to liability and negligence claims. The economic and profit driven desires to cut necessary spending on hiring fewer registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, trained medication assistants, and certified nursing aides, directly impacts the quality of care each patient is given every day, during each shift. If you or a loved one have suffered harm from the effects of understaffing while at a nursing home or assisted facility, a free consultation will help to evaluate whether you and your loved one may be entitled to just compensation. The attorneys at Rosenbaum and Associates have help clients throughout the Philadelphia region and eastern Pennsylvania. We have over twenty-five years of experience standing up for elder care justice and a long track record of holding nursing homes accountable for their treatment of the residents.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Appropriateness of Minimum Nurse Staffing Ratios in Nursing Homes, 2001 report, nearly 90 % of U.S. nursing homes have staffing levels too low to provide adequate care. With approximately 1.4 million people living in nursing homes in the United States, government regulators have recognized the dangers of understaffing. Close to 400,000 U.S. nursing home deaths each year are caused by infections, which may in large part be the result of understaffing. It has been recognized that with limited staff and patients that require more time to manage their daily routines, low staffing has the ripple effect of caregivers becoming hurried and spread too thin to be effective. For example, by a caregiver skipping infection control measures, such as hand hygiene, which take extra time, you expose an elderly person with a compromised immune system, to a host of potential infections. Numerous studies have shown that understaffing is associated with high urinary catheter use, poor hygiene, depleted skin care, malnutrition, and compromised feeding, dehydration, and an overall low participation in daily activities leading to a depressive onset. Similarly, a nursing staff that is overworked and understaffed may not be able to routinely check and move all bedridden patients, leading to pressure sores, skin breakdowns, and rashes.
All nursing homes participating in Medicare, meaning that the nursing home is reimbursed by the government for residents that use their Medicare benefits to help pay for their stay, are required to meet certain requirements detailed in the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, which is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. The regulation relevant is the part that speaks to a facilities ability to meet the required “sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident.” If you can establish a pattern of understaffing by a nursing home you may also be able to claim punitive damages for intentionally neglecting the well-being of the residents.
If you would like more information about understaffing at a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us online or call 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 for a Free Case Evaluation.