Shocking Federal Data Reveals Most Nursing Homes are Not Adequately Staffed
In every single case of nursing home abuse or neglect that our office takes, our clients tell us that the nursing home facility where their loved one was residing lacked enough staff members to meet the needs of the residents. In almost every deposition we take of nursing home owners or administrators, they deny that their facility is not adequately staffed. Of course, even though owners and administrators may disagree, it appears to be common knowledge that nursing home employees are not paid enough and there simply aren’t enough staff members to provide the proper care for residents.
Despite reporting to the federal government otherwise, federal data reveals that most nursing homes had fewer nurses and care taking staff than they actually reported to the federal government. In other words, nursing homes overstated their staffing levels. Yes, nursing homes lie. And, according to this report, they lie quite often. According to this federal data obtained by PBS, 7 out of 10 nursing homes had lower staffing than they reported. This data also reported that the staffing levels were not only below the minimum required, but also dangerously low. When a nursing home has dangerously low staffing levels, the end result is often dangerously high levels of abuse or neglect.
Low staffing levels is alarming because other federal research makes it clear that high nursing home staffing generally means high quality care, whereas low nursing home staffing generally means low quality care. Said differently, the amount of staff directly translated into a higher quality of care to the nursing home resident. Despite this very obvious federal research and the clear correlation between nursing home staffing levels and quality of care, nursing homes continue to poorly staff their facilities.
Why? Because nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are businesses. Their goal is to turn a profit by providing a service. This means that cutting expenses will help the bottom line. Staffing is one of the largest expenses that a nursing home has, especially if overtime is necessary. Thus, to grow a healthier bottom line, many nursing homes will skimp on staffing. Many will also provide insufficient training and have lower paid employees performing care that should only be performed by higher paid Registered Nurses.
What Happens When There is Inadequate Staffing in a Missouri Nursing Home?
We can read the federal studies which correlate low staffing to a poor quality of care in a nursing home. But why does this happen? The answer is simple: less staff means less treatment which means less quality of care. Fewer staff members mean there are fewer eyes to supervise residents who require significant supervision to remThere are many reasons how poor quality of care happens with less staffing, such as the following examples:
- Staff members helping one patient in a crisis are neglecting all other patients who could also be in a crisis or need assistance;
- Less staff means less supervision of residents who could wander, elope, or harm other residents;
- Fewer staff members means less monitoring of residents, but also less monitoring of staff who could commit nursing home abuse on residents, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and financial abuse;
- Inadequate staffing per resident ratios means residents see a staff member less often, which could translate to neglect;
- Less staff means less help during emergencies;
- Fewer staff members mean that the staff that is present must act quicker to review patients, provide care to more residents which means less time with each resident, supervise more residents than is safe, and in doing so they may miss more subtle but important areas of treatment such as hydration, food intake, and medication compliance; and
- Other issues with less support.
Types of Injuries in a Missouri Nursing Home that is Not Adequately Staffed
There are many possible injuries that could be sustained by residents in a Missouri nursing home that is not adequately staffed. These injuries could include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, and even wrongful death. Some of the most common injuries due to improper staffing levels at nursing homes include the following:
- Orbital blowout fractures – this injury is when significant force is applied to the orbital bone around the eye socket, which is the bone that forms the top of the cheek (or the cheek bone). An orbital blowout fracture typically occurs when a resident is caused to fall and lands on his or her face. This is a very serious fracture which requires surgery and could result in the loss of a resident’s eye. Wandering or eloping residents could easily fall and suffer this injury, which is preventable with proper staffing to prevent wandering.
- Traumatic brain injuries – falling from even a seated position in a wheelchair could result in traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to a resident. Proper care and attention of a staff member could prevent this, even just with assisting a resident in and out of a wheelchair or appropriately using brakes in the wheelchair.
- Broken bones – a broken bone could be caused by inadequate staffing if a resident falls while wandering, physically abused by another staff member or resident, slips getting into or out of a bathtub, or trips on a wheelchair or item on their flor. Fractures are very common in the elderly population because their bones are more susceptible to trauma due to conditions such as osteopenia, osteoarthritis, or prior injuries.
- Bed sores – Residents who are unable to reposition themselves rely completely upon nursing home employees to reposition them to prevent constant pressure on the same area of their body. When there are not enough staff members in the facility, at risk residents are not moved as often as they should be, if at all.
Residents with Any Injuries in a Missouri Nursing Home Should Ask Our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer to Investigate Whether Inadequate Staffing Caused Your Loved One’s Injuries
Most injuries in a nursing home can be traced to a lack of sufficient staff members. Indeed, a nursing home that is not adequately staffed is a dangerous one. While some injuries are unavoidable, they are rare. Most injuries that happen in Missouri nursing homes happen because there simply are not enough staff members in the nursing home to meet the needs of the residents. It’s really that simple. Ask our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at the Terry Law Firm to investigate and determine whether you have rights to protect after nursing home injuries. Whether you are the injured resident or a loved one who is concerned, call our office for a FREE consultation by dialing (314) 334-1439 to learn how we can help today.