It is easy to wonder why nursing home neglect is so prevalent. Is it because so many employees at these facilities do not actually care about the best interests of their residents? Unlikely. The vast majority of caregivers are hardworking individuals who do the best with that they are given to provide proper care to the seniors who depend on them. Instead, most of the time the problem is rooted in something more fundamental, lack of resources provided by owners and administrators. When staffing level are too low or there are insufficient supplies and equipment, then caregivers are forced to make difficult compromises.
For example, most nursing home falls are caused by seniors who do not receive the help that they need when moving around, getting out of bed, going to the restroom, and similar basic tasks. When staffing levels are too low, then caregivers are often not able to provide the assistance with these tasks–upping the likelihood of a preventable injury.
It is along the same lines that over-medication often occurs. Overuse of antipsychotic medications, often referred to as “chemical restraints,” remains a very serious problem in many long-term care settings. Even though significant attention has been drawn to the issue in recent years, the issue is far from solved. Far too many seniors medicine that they do not need or doses that are too large, with serious consequences on their lives. Over-medication can be fatal in some instances (particularly for those with cognitive conditions like dementia), and drastically reduce the resident’s quality of life in others. The bottom line is that medication should be used as minimally as possible.
Nursing Home Neglect Citation
But that clear truth is often violated. For example, the Sacramento Bee reported on one facility across the country that received a significant fine as a result of public health official’s discovering over-medication likely led to the death of a former resident. According to the report, the 82-year old resident at issue entered the facility after suffering a stroke that left him partially paralyzed.
While at the facility, the caregivers allegedly over-medicated the resident, making him groggy and otherwise lessening his already diminished functional capabilities. Ultimately, the medication contributed to a fall that the man took from his wheelchair. He suffered serious injury in the fall (including a subdural hematoma), but he wasn’t taken to the hospital until days later at the insistence of his daughter. He eventually died as a result of complications from those injuries.
As a result of this misconduct the state health department investigated the matter. The concluded that state rules were violated and hit the home with a $100,000 fine. It is perhaps unsurprising that this lapse is care was not the first for these long-term care owners. The report indicates that only one year before this man died, the same company faced nearly $30 million in payments for neglect at a separate facility which caused the death of a resident. Unfortunately, shorting of resources leading to resident harm often occurs time and again at the same facilities.
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