Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question “What constitutes nursing home negligence?”
A recent study indicates that problems with care at nursing homes across the country may be linked to the poor quality of life of those working in the nursing facilities. The study revealed that nursing assistants are frequently underpaid, overworked, have bad benefits, lack opportunities for advancement and suffer high rates of workplace injury. These problems combine to make it difficult for nursing homes to recruit and, even more importantly, retain quality staff. The high turnover rates are problems not only for staff and the facilities that employ them, but for those patients who depend on their care.
The study, published by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, found that nearly half of all nursing assistants live in homes below 200% of the federal poverty level. A full third of all nursing assistants are on public benefits. In addition to low wages, nursing staff are expected to work for long hours and engage in physically demanding tasks. These issues lead to incredibly high levels of staffing turnover, which have been shown to lead to declining levels of care for nursing home residents.
Another issue impacting both nursing staff and nursing home patients’ wellbeing concerns staffing levels. Nursing homes across the country routinely understaff their facilities, sometimes intentionally and sometimes because they can’t find qualified help. Low pay and bad work conditions make it hard to recruit qualified candidates, especially given the tight job market. Additionally, many nursing homes worry about profitability and, cutting back on staff and the availability of overtime hours is a good way to increase profits, often at the expense of patients.
The consequences of understaffing in terms of nursing staff can be great. For one thing, understaffing means that more work falls on those people already employed. This leads to much greater stress and, the increased workload invariably leads to increased workplace injuries. Working in a nursing home is already among the most dangerous professions in the U.S., right up there with commercial fishing, and stretching staff to the breaking point is one way to ensure nurses remain in harm’s way.
For unsuspecting patients, the harm can be even greater. Nursing homes with high patient-to-staff ratios have much higher rates of nursing home abuse and neglect. A lack of qualified staff contributes to painful consequences for immobile patients. Inadequate staffing makes it impossible for nurses to turn and move patients as often as is necessary to prevent bedsores. Patients are also more likely to be left unattended for longer periods of time, increasing the risk of falls or other accidents.
Inadequate staffing levels also lead to problems with patients receiving food and medicine on time or getting baths and grooming. This can lead to malnutrition and even infections in some patients. Finally, inadequate staffing can contribute to the abuse of patients. Abusive staff members have reported stress due to understaffing as a primary motivating factor which led to them become abusive. Also, if abuse is occurring, good nurses may be too busy to notice and take action to stop or report the abuse, moving quickly from patient to patient leaves little time for such attentive care.
If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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