Nursing homes have a legal duty to ensure that residents enjoy a safe living environment and quality care, an obligation that stems from Florida law and by contract. Unfortunately, far too many assisted living facilities fail to live up to their obligations. One of the biggest threats to residents is understaffing, a problem highlighted in a PBS article. A recent study found that most nursing homes had fewer nurses and caretakers than they reported to officials, leading to significant fluctuations in staffing. Weekends are a particular concern, with staff being responsible for almost twice as many residents.
When nursing homes simply do not have sufficient personnel to deliver essential services and the level of care required by residents, neglect and abuse become serious issues. Because some victims are not in a position to address misconduct on their own, loved ones must often step up to seek justice. If you believe understaffing was behind harm to your loved one, you should contact a Miami nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer right away. It is also important to understand the dangers.
Reasons for Nursing Home Understaffing
You would probably not be surprised to learn that the top reason for these failures is money. Running an assisted living center is expensive, and employee wages are one of the highest costs. Reducing the number of licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, orderlies, aides, and other staff is sometimes easier than cutting corners on other essential expenses.
In addition, understaffing is often the result of poor staff retention levels. The workplace can be stressful compared to other environments, and the pay is often higher at hospitals, clinics, schools, and medical practices.
Understaffing Puts Residents at Risk of Harm
There is a significant threat to residents in an assisted living facility that does not staff sufficient personnel for the number of residents and the level of care they require. Nursing home abuse frequently occurs when caretakers become overtaxed, stressed, frantic, and frustrated from doing double- and triple-duty. Employees may direct their anger at the resident through physical mistreatment.
However, nursing home neglect can be just as harmful when understaffing prevents workers from serving the needs of residents. Victims may suffer from:
- Dehydration or malnutrition;
- Falls, which often occur because caretakers aren’t available to help an unattended resident with mobility;
- Issues with personal hygiene, since staff is not able to assist with bathing, combing hair, shaving, and other tasks;
- Dirty, unsafe common areas;
- Medication errors when busy, hurried staff administer the wrong drug or dosage; and,
- Failure to monitor residents with chronic medical conditions or health issues.
Set Up a No-Cost Consultation with a Miami Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our first priority is assisting you in getting your loved one to a safe, properly staffed living environment. From there, we can help with your legal options to recover compensation for nursing home abuse and neglect. To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to schedule a free case assessment.