Almost every problem that nursing home patients face can be attributed to an understaffed facility. The problem is more common in for-profit long-term care facilities because the owners are concerned with making money, and workers’ salaries are a large part of their expenses. These businesses cut corners to increase profits for shareholders.
Loved ones residing in care facilities should not have to suffer physically, emotionally, or mentally due to neglect or abuse that has gone unnoticed because of short staffing. Our nursing home abuse attorneys fight tenaciously for residents at risk because of understaffing in San Diego nursing homes.
Requirements for Staffing California Nursing Homes
Federal requirements for nursing homes that are certified to provide care to Medicaid and Medicare residents do not prescribe ratios of caregivers to residents (although there are recommendations for skilled nursing facilities (SNF). This offers a higher level of medical care than nursing homes that primarily provide help with daily tasks.
Nursing homes must hire full-time nursing directors, and a credentialed nurse (LPN or RN) must always be on duty, with a registered nurse (RN) on duty at least eight hours a day. Although certified nurse’s aides (CNAs) mostly provide nursing home care, there are no rules for how many should be available to nursing home residents.
California Safety Code
California’s Health & Safety Code requires nursing facilities to provide at least three-and-a-half hours of direct care per resident daily, with almost two-and-a-half hours provided by a CNA. These provisions force facilities to hire enough staff, but unfortunately, no specific ratio is provided for nursing homes, only that there should be enough staff to meet residents’ needs. And nursing homes can ask for waivers, as half of them did after the Health & Safety Code went into effect. A San Diego lawyer can help assess a situation in which a nursing home resident was harmed by substandard care due to understaffing.
Patients and Staff Suffer from Understaffing
Most patient care in nursing homes is provided by CNAs, who undergo about 75 hours of training in California before assuming this difficult and low-paying role. CNAs assist patients with daily tasks of bathing, eating, and walking. They must often lift and move patients, causing them more injuries than construction workers incur each year. The rampant turnover for CNAs is due to overwork, low pay, and burnout from trying to cover so many patients. Medicare, which now collects data relating to nursing homes, found that on good days one CNA assisted eight residents, and on bad days, one CNA had to tend to 18 patients.
Problems Understaffing Causes
Leaving vulnerable residents alone for too long leads to harm and even death. The widespread problems understaffing causes include:
- Falls, with an estimated 50 to 75 percent of nursing home residents involved each year, made worse when seniors are not accompanied while walking or are left in bed, weakening muscles
- Infections, including bedsores from not being moved enough, and complications from lack of incontinent care
- Medication errors
- Abuse by burned-out staff or other residents whose behavior goes unnoticed because staff is overworked
- Dehydration and malnutrition when caregiver is too busy to ensure a resident eats or drinks
Those who are charged with managing care for a family member should be vigilant about the nursing home activities and document what they see and hear. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in reaching the correct government agency or ombudsman who advocates for the most vulnerable California residents. The nursing home, or select staff, might also be liable for injuries a San Diego resident suffers due to understaffing that leads to harm or abuse. The resident or family might be able to file an injury lawsuit for compensation.
Work with an Attorney for Residents of Understaffed San Diego Nursing Homes
If you are looking out for a family member or friend living in a nursing home or admitted to a skilled nursing facility, you may notice that there are not enough caregivers, which puts residents in danger. In addition to reporting the abuse, you can also initiate a lawsuit to hold the facility accountable for putting profit over people.
Our lawyers advocate for vulnerable senior citizens. No long-term care facility should be reaping big profits while residents suffer and die. Call for a consultation and learn how our team handles understaffing in San Diego nursing homes.