In order to obtain and keep a license to operate by the state, nursing home facilities must abide by both federal and state laws. These laws are put in place to ensure that the homes provide quality care for all residents. Despite all these laws in place, nursing home abuse and neglect continues to be a serious issue in the United States.
One of the biggest issues that can trigger nursing home abuse or neglect is understaffing. When there is not enough staff to provide quality care to residents, the following dangerous abuse and neglect incidents often occur:
- Emotional abuse
- Medication errors
- Overall neglect (no attention paid to residents, no extra-curricular activities, etc.)
- Physical abuse
- Poor personal hygiene
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
While each state sets its own regulations for nursing homes, federal regulations are the same across the country. In order for a nursing home facility to qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, the facility is required to provide around-the-clock nursing staff that meets the needs of all the residents. There must also be a registered nurse at the facility for a minimum of eight hours – consecutively – every day.
There are some situations where these requirements may be waived:
- The nursing home has made arrangements for a registered nurse or doctor to provide resident care on the days the facility’s full-time nurse is not available.
- The nursing home has a full-time registered nurse who is on duty 40 hours per week.
- The nursing home has no residents who require a registered nurse or doctor for up to a 48-hour time frame.
- The nursing home is located in a rural area where there is a limited supply of nursing professionals.
If the facility has been granted one of the above exceptions, residents and their families are required to be notified.
Unfortunately, there are nursing homes where the management has made the decision to keep the facility understaffed in order to keep more funds for profit and limit operating expenses. This focus on putting profits over the quality of care of residents leaves staff overworked and stressed, and residents at risk of being victims of abuse or neglect.
Another reason for understaffing is that the nursing home is unable to find trained, experienced, and quality nursing professionals who will provide the care that all residents deserve. Whatever the reason for the understaffing issues, lack of staff means that there is a higher staff to resident ratio and staff often are forced to work overtime.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, you need to contact a lawyer, like a nursing home lawyer from Darrell Castle, to find out what legal recourse your family has. Contact a firm today to discuss what steps you can take to get your loved one the financial justice they deserve.