As Our Population Ages, Nursing Homes Struggle to Cut Costs Associated with Patient Care
More Americans are moving to nursing homes every year due to an overall increase in life expectancy and growing elderly population. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, there were 15,600 nursing homes in 2014 with 1.7 million licensed beds available.
In 2014, 69.8% of nursing home facilities were under for-profit ownership. Unfortunately, the for-profit nursing home industry is often looking for ways to maximize profits. Oftentimes, profits are maximized at the expense of the health and well-being of the elderly nursing home residents they are being paid to care for.
The number one way for nursing homes to cut costs and increase profits is to decrease the number of nursing home staff working at any given point in time. Patients are at greater risk for injury and/or death when nursing homes understaffed. Nursing home injuries are directly related to the number of staff the nursing home employs. Less staff means more accidents.
What are the Warning Signs that a Nursing Home Facility is Understaffed?
Nursing home neglect and abuse tends to occur in facilities that are understaffed or have poorly trained staff. While it may seem that a facility has adequate staff when you visit, this may not always be the case, especially during nighttime hours and holidays.
The following are warnings signs that a nursing home is understaffed:
- Frequent malnutrition and dehydration because of lack of access to food and/or water;
- Unexplained falls, fractures, bruising, or other signs of physical injury;
- Development of bed sores, especially bed sores allowed to develop to advanced stages;
- Errors in medication, including giving patients the wrong medication or not giving patients medication on a regular basis;
- A high rate of nursing home infections;
- Inadequate or missing medical records;
- Food poisoning from under-cooked food;
- Lack of individualized patient care plans;
- Patient wandering in hazardous areas of the nursing home facility or wandering away from the nursing home facility; and
- Patient eloping from the facility;
- Patients being restrained because there is not enough to watch over all the residents;
- Failure to notify medical professionals and a patient’s family when a patient is injured.
These are some signs that a nursing home facility could be understaffed and that patients could be suffering from nursing home neglect and/or abuse. General lack of health and happiness can also be indicative of under-staffing in a nursing home facility.
You may also notice issues with the quality and maintenance of medical equipment within the facility, such as lack of proper padding in wheelchairs. You may notice lack of staff attention to patients who are wheelchair-bound or bedridden. Such patients could become withdrawn over time because of lack of social interaction and activity, which can impact the quality of a patient’s life.
Injuries occur when nursing homes understaff their facilities. Most nursing home injuries require a detailed investigation to determine if a nursing home deviated from the acceptable standard of care.
An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer knows how to investigate the circumstances surrounding nursing home accidents to determine if the nursing home might be found liable for a patient’s injuries.
If you believe under-staffing caused your loved one to suffer injury or death in a nursing home facility, call our personal injury attorneys today. Do not let a nursing get away with putting profit over a loved one’s safety and well-being.
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