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Omaha Nursing Home Understaffing Lawyer

Fighting for Our Elderly Loved Ones

Understaffing at a nursing home can happen for a variety of reasons, from saving money by hiring fewer people, to high turnover, to temporary staffing changes, to a lack of proper funding. However, all elderly patients deserve proper treatment, and a nursing home that accepts money to take care of people has to make sure it is doing so.

Proper Staffing at Nursing Homes

There is no "exact" number of staff members who should be on hand at an Omaha nursing home. It depends on the size of the facility, the number of residents and their needs, how long shifts run, and other factors.

Federal law does require licensed facilities that accept Medicaid and Medicare to comply with certain staffing regulations. Based on the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, "Each nursing home must provide 24-hour licensed nursing services which are sufficient to meet the nursing needs of each of its residents. Each nursing home must use the services of a registered professional nurse for at least 8 consecutive hours a day, 7 days a week." However, facilities may apply for a waiver of these requirements and receive one, if the state determines the waiver will not "endanger the health and safety of residents." There are no staffing requirements for nurse aides and other staff members, who most commonly attend to residents’ day-to-day care.

While you may not know precisely how many people should be working at your loved one’s nursing home, you can watch for warning signs that indicate a nursing home is understaffed, such as:

  • The front desk is usually empty
  • There are fewer nurses than before
  • Residents seem to be wandering around without anyone paying attention to them
  • Your loved one has to wait a significant time before receiving attention

It is also important to talk to elderly residents and ask questions. Listen if they tell you they feel neglected or have not had regular visits from doctors and other medical professionals that the facility is supposed to provide.

Reasons for Understaffing

Nursing home understaffing can happen for a variety of reasons, but it almost always comes down to money. If a facility does not have adequate funding, it might not be able to hire the staff it needs. In some cases, sadly, a facility might have enough money, but choose to not hire more people to maximize profits.

No matter the reason, understaffing can create very dangerous situations for nursing home residents.

The Consequences of Understaffing

Understaffing at nursing homes can have a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Resident neglect: Without enough staff to care for them, nursing home residents can be neglected. This can result in issues like the development of bedsores, urinary tract infections, falls, and other physical disabilities for elderly residents.
  • Lack of supervision: Many times, residents in nursing homes require supervision for their own safety, especially if they struggle with dementia and similar conditions. Without supervision, residents can wander away from a facility ("elopement") and be harmed in traffic, by exposure, or by other environmental hazards.
  • Lack of treatment: Beyond general neglect, some residents in understaffed nursing homes do not receive the medical treatment they need. This includes things like doctor check-ups, routine medication, and other basic healthcare.
  • Overworked staff: Residents in understaffed nursing homes are not the only ones who suffer. Staff at such facilities quickly becomes overworked when they have to take up the slack of missing employees. This leads to staff members becoming overly stressed in an already stressful occupation, which can result in mistakes at work, depression, and an increased chance of violent outbursts or abuse towards residents. It can also lead to “caregiver burnout,” resulting in more turnover and an even smaller staff, compounding the problem.

Without enough managers, caregivers, nurses, and staff members at a nursing home, residents often do not receive the care they need, neglect becomes more common, and staff members who are present become overworked and make mistakes.

If you suspect that a nursing home’s understaffing led to your loved one’s injury, please call the team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Our Omaha nursing home abuse attorney takes these cases very seriously, and will sit down with you to discuss your case. If an investigation turns up wrongdoing on the part of the nursing home, we’ll help you file a claim for fair compensation for your injured loved one. Call (402) 505-8234 today for a free consultation.

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