Nursing Homes with Serious Deficiencies Are Often Poorly Staffed
An analysis of data from Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website concluded that nurses and support care staff such as nursing assistants and aides are grossly understaffed at some of the most troubled homes in Illinois. This proves something the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti know all too well. Understaffed care facilities put unnecessary pressures on employees that often lead to mistakes, injuries, and deaths of nursing home residents in their charge. And although we hear of changes in administrative staff, and fines aimed to tighten and clarify procedures as a solution to the issue, many of these poor performing homes continue to receive their funding, remain understaffed and contribute to more cases of nursing home abuse and neglect than facilities that are equipped to provide sufficient care and services.
The Factors Behind Understaffing
Research from the Nursing Home Abuse Center indicates that as many as 95 percent of nursing facilities in the U.S. are understaffed. Unfortunately, many nursing home owners will intentionally cut staff hours or design dangerous and bold patient-to-staff ratios in order to increase profits and line their own pockets. But some homes may also be insufficiently staffed because it has become more difficult to hire properly trained care professionals to provide the level of support residents deserve. In return, those staff who are employed may feel constantly stressed and overworked due to unreasonable demands, making it difficult for facilities to keep workers on the payroll. This is especially true for nursing homes located in small towns and rural areas where there is already a lack of qualified people to fill these demanding positions.
Common Violations That Occur When a Nursing Home is Understaffed
46 percent of nurses say they have missed changes in a patient’s condition due to an excessive workload. Mixed with the stress and exhaustion of working long demanding shifts, a nurse or nurse’s aide is likely to make mistakes and create bigger problems for already vulnerable residents. This reality is downright frightening considering the direct impact understaffing has on patient needs. Patients living in these unsupported staff environments often suffer from additional physical ailments, injuries, abuse, psychological disorders, stress and anxiety, malnutrition, and even death. Here is a review of four common violations often stemming from understaffed Illinois nursing homes.
- Failing to Prevent Falls
One of the most common causes of injury in nursing homes is falling. In fact, 2,000 residents will die each year from a fall while many more suffer from other serious, fall-related injuries. And while we know that every injury can’t be prevented, our experience representing nursing home neglect victims has shown us that if a facility does not have trained staff set in place to protect against falls and assist residents with fall prevention, the risk for related injuries and fatalities will go up.
- Not Assisting with Mobility
Many patients are living in nursing homes because they have limited mobility and are dependent on caregivers to assist with daily needs. If a home is understaffed it can make it nearly impossible for staff members to move patients as often as necessary to prevent bedsores or assist with bathroom and bathing, and clothing change needs. Without these simple care tasks being done on a watchful routine, painful skin conditions and dangerous infections, and emotional distress can arise.
- Daily Needs Are Ignored
It is hard to imagine your loved one being left alone for period of time without being served food, bathed, assisted in the bathroom, given their medication, or being properly cared for but sadly these things do happen, especially in facilities that are understaffed. Staff may not be able to align feeding and medication schedules for all patients or tend to those residents with the individualized care outlined in their plan because workers are stretching themselves among too many resident needs. Malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, or side effects from a lapse in medication are often outcomes of these failures.
- Residents Have a Higher Risk of Being Abused
In 2017, an audit by the Inspector General’s Office of Health and Human Services found that Illinois has the highest number of nursing home neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse incidents. Abusive staff may carry stress from issues related to heavy workloads which then triggers impatient, impulsive and abusive behavior to residents. Having limited time to care for each resident should not be a common practice in any care facility.
Understaffing is irresponsible for nursing home owners and can cause dangerous outcomes for both patients and staff. Falls, bruises, medication errors, and bed sores are not supposed to happen at nursing homes and when they do, questions should be asked, and clear answers should follow. If you are a nursing home employee and have witnessed any form of abuse or neglect of residents, you may be struggling with fear of losing your job while worrying for the safety and well-being of those under the facility’s care. Don’t be afraid to speak up when practices or past incidents are in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. You have the opportunity to do the right thing and protect our most vulnerable citizens from nursing home abuse and neglect that robs them of their dignity, their health, and even their lives. Please let us help them by helping you.
Chicago’s Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
We are one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements for individuals and families who have been impacted by nursing home abuse, malpractice, or neglect associated with intentional understaffing. The Illinois nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti can help if a loved one or patient has suffered as a result of a poorly staffed nursing home.
Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.