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5 Ways Understaffed Nursing Homes Are More Dangerous for Residents

December 18, 2023

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Nursing homes are intended to be sanctuaries of care, comfort, and compassion for residents recovering from serious health problems, dealing with disabilities, or of advanced age. Families entrust these facilities to provide a high standard of care and support for their loved ones.

However, when nursing homes are understaffed, residents' safety and well-being are at serious risk. Unfortunately, understaffing is extremely common. According to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, a 2021 survey of more than 14,000 nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide found that 94% face staffing shortages.

In this blog post, we will explore five ways understaffed nursing homes can be dangerous for their residents while also highlighting the importance of addressing nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

1. Increased Risk of Falls and Injuries

One of the most common dangers that residents of understaffed nursing homes face is an increased risk of falls and injuries. Adequate staff is essential for monitoring residents, assisting them with mobility, and promptly responding to their needs.

When nursing homes lack sufficient staff, disabled residents may not receive required assistance with potentially dangerous activities such as getting in and out of bed, walking, or using the bathroom. Residents also may attempt to get up and move on their own when no help is available—even when their physical limitations make this difficult and dangerous. This lack of support can result in accidents, such as slips, trips, and falls, which can lead to serious injuries, including fractures, head trauma, and other complications—some of which can even prove fatal.

Residents who require mobility aids, like walkers or wheelchairs, may also be particularly vulnerable to falls if they are left unattended or if their equipment is not properly maintained. Understaffing compromises the safety of residents and can lead to severe and sometimes life-altering injuries.

2. Neglected Hygiene and Infections

Maintaining proper hygiene is crucial for nursing home residents' overall health and well-being. Understaffed facilities often struggle to provide residents with adequate assistance in bathing, dressing, and toileting. Residents may be left in soiled clothing or bedding for extended periods, increasing the risk of skin infections, pressure sores, urinary tract infections, and other health issues.

Additionally, the lack of staff can result in poor sanitation and the spread of infectious diseases among residents. Understaffed nursing homes may not have the resources or time to clean and disinfect common areas, rooms, and medical equipment adequately, making residents more susceptible to illness. Neglected hygiene and sanitation contribute to a higher likelihood of preventable health problems for vulnerable residents.

3. Medication Errors

Proper administration of medication is a critical aspect of nursing home care. Residents often require multiple medications to manage various health conditions. Understaffed facilities may struggle to maintain accurate medication schedules, monitor side effects, and ensure residents receive the correct dosages at the right times.

Medication errors, such as administering the wrong drug or dosage, can have severe consequences for residents. These errors can worsen existing health conditions, lead to bad reactions, or even prove fatal in some cases. Adequate staffing is necessary to prevent medication mistakes and safeguard residents' well-being.

4. Delayed Responses to Emergencies

In understaffed nursing homes, the response time to emergencies can be significantly delayed. Whether a resident is experiencing a medical crisis, a fall, or another sudden issue, a prompt response can mean the difference between life and death. With too few staff members, residents may be left waiting for assistance, and crucial seconds or minutes can be lost.

Furthermore, understaffing can result in a lack of supervision, leading to residents engaging in unsafe behaviors or wandering off the premises. Such incidents may not be discovered in a timely manner, putting residents at risk of harm, including injuries or exposure to harsh weather conditions.

5. Emotional and Psychological Toll

The dangers of understaffed nursing homes extend beyond physical harm. They can also take an emotional and psychological toll on residents. When staff members are overworked and stressed due to a lack of personnel, they may struggle to provide the necessary emotional support and companionship that residents need. Overworked staff may also lash out at residents, resulting in verbal abuse.

Loneliness, depression, and anxiety can become pervasive in understaffed nursing homes, as residents may feel neglected and isolated. The absence of meaningful human interaction can negatively impact the overall quality of life for these vulnerable people.

Call our Ohio Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers if You Suspect Negligence at Your Loved One’s Facility

Nursing home abuse and neglect cases stemming from understaffing are a serious concern for residents and their loved ones. Families must remain vigilant and advocate for their loved ones' rights to receive proper care and protection. When understaffing results in harm or neglect, it’s vital to enlist the help of an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer.

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered due to the understaffing of their nursing home, contact Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy for a free consultation. Our team of compassionate and dedicated attorneys is experienced in handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Your loved one deserves the best care possible, and we are committed to seeking maximum compensation and justice on their behalf.

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