Understaffing May Contribute to Nursing Home Neglect

NBC recently reported that a family filed a nursing home neglect lawsuit on behalf of their elderly loved one against Woodcrest Health Center in New Milford, New Jersey and its parent company, Care One. The claimants released graphic photos alleging that the nursing home staff ignored the elder’s calls to use the restroom, so the resident — who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease — used her hands to wipe herself, inadvertently smearing excrement on her face, body, bed and tray of food. The family cites understaffing as a contributing factor in the elderly resident’s neglect. The family also claims that there were not enough nurse’s aides to answer call bells to assist the senior resident out of her bed and, in one instance, she fractured her hip trying to get out of bed by herself. Another photo revealed the elderly resident had sustained a black eye and the family was not informed of her injury or how it occurred. The lawsuit is currently pending.

According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide, understaffing may be one of the most prominent contributing factors in nursing home neglect and may also indirectly contribute to nursing home abuse as well. Understaffing may create difficulties for nursing home staff members to readjust and turn immobile patients as often as necessary to prevent bedsores and muscle atrophy.

For those who depend on caregivers to feed and administer medications on a regular schedule, the lack of available workers may lead to complications from missed or improperly administered medications. If an elderly resident is not bathed and groomed regularly, sores and infections may develop as a result. Some nursing home staff members report stress from understaffing as a contributing factor in abusive behaviors. The lack of staff members may also limit the time workers can spend with each elderly resident, which can lead to impatience and use of force when dealing with residents.

In 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a report that stated “understaffing was an endemic problem” and is a threat to nursing home residents’ health and welfare. The HHS report determined that more than half of nursing homes fall below the recommended standards of care, which state that residents should be allotted at least two hours of dedicated care from a staff member.

If your loved one has suffered a serious injury as the result of negligence in a nursing home facility, the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levine & Slavit, PLLC are available to assist you immediately. Our dedicated and compassionate attorneys will fight to protect your legal rights and remedies. Contact our New York City and Long Island personal injury law firm at (888) LAW-8088.

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