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Inadequate Staffing Causes Nursing Home Negligence

A recent post on My Elder Advocate, provided a call to arms arguing that state legislatures needed to address the inadequate and harmful nursing home staff ratios.

The article mentioned two New York nursing home residents who were placed on what was supposed to be closely monitored skin assessments, turning, and positioning to help correct pressure sores. However, mostly due to inadequate nursing care, the residents’ condition worsened, leading to even more pressure sores and renal failure.

Unfortunately, those were not two isolated examples. Understaffed nursing home facilities abound throughout the country, acting as one of the leading causes of nursing home negligence. For example, a 1996 study by the Institute of Medicine found that staffing ratios have a large effect on resident nutrition. Without enough employees, staff members often do not feed residents patiently, leading to poor nutrition and dehydration.

Interviews with nursing home staff indicate that inadequate care is typically not a product of abuse or active negligence. Instead, staff members often simply do not have time to provide the care that each resident is entitled. No matter what the reason, however, improper care is never an acceptable practice when the life and death of our seniors hang in the balance.

Besides simply allowing all necessary care to be provided, proper staffing levels also have the effect on limiting nursing turnover at these facilities. Many nurses do not stay long at any single facility often due to the hectic schedule and requirements caused by inadequate staffing levels. High turnover leads to increased training costs and ultimately inferior care, as new staff members require a learning curve. If sufficient nursing levels were maintained consistently at these facilities, than the proper care would be provided and more nurses would chose to stay at a single location decreased the cost and efficiency problems associated with high turnover rates.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti support all measures that strive to increase the ratio of staff members to residents at Illinois nursing homes. Our decades of experience include countless examples of nursing home abuse and negligence that is often directly related to inadequate staff numbers. Many nursing homes are run as big business operations with cost-cutting taking priority over resident health and safety. All advocates need to provide close watch of our local nursing homes to ensure that each has enough staff members to provide the care our senior residents deserve.