Understaffing in Georgia Nursing Homes
When nursing homes and other long-term care facilities fail to hire enough staff, patient care is affected.
The risk of neglect and abuse escalates, the standard of care decreases, and residents are in danger of negative consequences such as illness, infections, falls, medication errors, and malnutrition.
Understaffing is often the underlying cause of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities. When nurses and other caregivers are overworked, they have less time to spend with the residents, are rushed to get their work done, and they are tired.
Exhaustion can escalate to abuse when nurses and other staff take their anxiety and anger out on the residents.
Understaffing is a practice that places profits over resident safety. It leads to more money for nursing home owners and operators, and less care for your loved one.
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our Georgia nursing home abuse attorneys fight for the rights of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
If your loved one’s safety has been put at risk, or if they sustained injuries because of understaffing in a nursing home, we are available to help.
For a free consultation, please contact our law firm today.
Understaffed Nursing Home Statistics
ABC News article reported that after eight years of research, health officials confirmed that understaffing in long-term care facilities endangers residents and increases their risk of abnormal weight loss, bedsores, infections, and other consequences of neglect.
The study found that 54 percent of U.S. nursing homes currently fall below the proposed minimum standard set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which requires residents receive a minimum of two hours of care each day from nurses’ aides and other staff.
Additionally, 31 percent of nursing homes fail to meet the standard that residents receive at least 12 minutes of care each day from a registered nurse.
New Federal Data: Most Nursing Homes are Not Adequately Staffed
The latest understaffed nursing home statistics remain deeply troubling. According to reporting from PBS Newshour, federal data indicates the majority of American nursing homes and assisted living facilities are still not adequately staffed.
This comes as a little surprise to many families in Georgia and throughout the country who have long raised complaints about the level of staffing in their loved one’s nursing home.
The newest data was released based on requirements included within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. Through this release of information, Kaiser Health News obtained access to staffing data from more than 14,000 nursing homes across the country.
The results of its analysis are truly concerning. Three key points were emphasized in the data:
- Nursing homes frequently exaggerate their staffing levels. In reporting their staffing and marketing their services, they overstate how many staff members will be on-site on a regular basis.
- Staffing at nursing homes is incredibly inconsistent, and most facilities have periods of severe understaffing. Most notably, on nights and weekends, some assisted living centers are “like a ghost town”.
- Gaps in staffing result in professionals being forced to wear multiple hats on the job. Overburdened staff members are far more likely to rush through things and make major mistakes. This puts vulnerable nursing home residents at serious risk.
Effects of an Understaffed Nursing Home
Understaffing in nursing homes is not a mere annoyance for residents and their family members: it is a serious safety issue. An understaffed nursing home is a potentially dangerous nursing home. Among other things, the negative effects of understaffed nursing homes include:
- Poor personal hygiene for nursing home residence
- A higher risk of nursing home falls
- Rampant infections within the facility
- More problems that require resident hospital visits
- Increased accidents, including a higher rate of unexplained bruises/injuries
- Poor oversight leading to patients dealing with bedsores
- Sudden weight loss
- Inadequate nutritional oversight, potentially including malnutrition
- Greater incident of resident psychological problems, including depression
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Medication errors
- Unanswered questions or poor communication with family
- Unanswered phone calls
- High staff turnover
Finally, an understaffed nursing home will always result in overburdened caregivers. This is a serious problem. Even the most skilled, attentive, well-meaning staff members have limitations.
When a nurse or other staff member has too much on their plate, they are simply not going to be able to offer high-quality, professional care that all nursing home residents deserve. Mistakes will happen. In the very worst cases, this could lead to falls, accidents, or even potentially dangerous medication errors or death.
Beyond all that, understaffing results in stressed nurses and nursing aides. They will not be able to create a pleasant, emotionally safe environment for older adults and other vulnerable people.
Dealing with an Understaffed Nursing Home: What can you do?
If you suspect your loved one’s nursing home isn’t adequately staffed, you should talk to a supervisor, social worker, administrator, director of nursing, or your loved one’s doctor to express your concerns. If your complaint isn’t resolved quickly, it may be time to reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer. You can reach one of our skilled nursing home abuse attorneys at (706) 354-4000 for a free consultation.
Your loved one deserves optimal care, and an understaffed nursing home is typically filled with overworked employees who are exhausted, always in a hurry, and often neglect residents. It’s also important to report nursing home abuse or neglect to the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services. You can report abuse or neglect online, or call (866) 552-4464. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to call 911.
Get Help From Our Georgia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers Today
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our Georgia nursing home neglect attorneys are strong, aggressive advocates for our clients.
We have the skills and experience needed to hold negligent nursing homes and assisted living facilities accountable. If your vulnerable loved one suffered an injury or illness because of an understaffed nursing home, we can help.
To schedule a free, fully private initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm at (706) 354-4000. Headquartered in Athens, we handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases across the state of Georgia.