The Obvious Risks of Understaffing in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

The Obvious Risks of Understaffing in Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

In recent years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, understaffing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities has emerged as a critical issue, directly impacting the health and safety of residents. The shortage of nurses and care assistants not only leaves the work force fatigued and stretched thin but leads to a decline in the quality of care provided to patients and residents, making preventable injuries and wrongful death a more common occurrence.

The American Health Care Association recently found that the long-term care industry is 400,000 workers short, and that nursing homes are most effected by the shortage. Data shows that nearly 90% of nursing home providers report being understaffed, with 50% of those being “severely understaffed.” Facilities in Georgia and Alabama are not immune to this nationwide problem. In Georgia, 76 percent of nursing homes currently do not meet proposed staff-to-resident direct care hours. In Alabama, one out of every three nursing homes has a staffing shortage.

When nursing homes operate with insufficient staff, essential tasks such as regular monitoring, timely medication administration, and assistance with daily activities can fall by the wayside. These shortages can, and do, lead to severe consequences, including falls, bedsores, malnutrition, and even wrongful deaths. These are not merely unfortunate incidents but preventable outcomes that are often times linked to the level of staffing.

Understaffing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities leads to:

  • A greater risk of falls and fall related injuries;
  • An increase in bed sore and pressure wounds in immobile residents and patients;
  • Increase in infection caused by unsanitary conditions;
  • Malnutrition;
  • Difficulty following routine medication scheduling.

Nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities have long known the risks posed by short staffing. However, as the industry continues to find ways to maximize profit over care, facilities are often hiring fewer people to cut labor costs, leaving residents and patients vulnerable to avoidable injuries. Research studies have consistently demonstrated that lower staffing levels of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and nursing assistants (NAs) in nursing homes are associated with negative outcomes for residents, including decreased quality of care, increased hospitalizations, and higher mortality rates.

Adequate staffing of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are the responsibility of those facilities and when that responsibility is not met, avoidable injuries occur. When that happens, and you or a loved one suffers injury or death inside a nursing home or long-term care facility, call the attorneys at Bodewell Injury Group, and let us tell your story.

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