Staffing shortages in nursing homes could result in patient neglect. Research conducted by the AARP revealed that 28% of nursing homes have operated with a reduced number of direct care workers since June of 2020.
A lack of staffing may cause contagious viruses and infections to spread quickly throughout a facility. When staff members also become infected, they call in sick and the situation could worsen. Patients may lose part of their daily medical care and may also not receive personal attention from a practitioner.
Facilities may show clear signs of employee shortages
Family members visiting relatives in understaffed nursing homes may notice symptoms of a facility with serious staffing issues. According to the Human Rights Watch, residents may display physical signs indicating neglect, such as poor hygiene, weight loss and untreated sores.
Residents with dementia typically require increased support from staff members. Signs of neglect include reduced mental capacity and a tendency to take the wrong medications. A change in a resident’s demeanor, such as lethargy or showing a lack of interest, may provide evidence that the facility suffers from a staffing shortage.
Federal law does not mandate minimum staffing requirements
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services oversees the regulation of nursing homes but does not require a facility to hire a minimum number of employees. The agency only requires facilities to determine how well their staff can provide each resident with “the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.”
Patients who spend only a few minutes with a staff member may express isolation, loneliness or depression. A staff member’s rush to administer a quick treatment may result in a patient taking a potentially harmful psychotropic medication.
Insufficient staffing has caused injuries and deaths in U.S. nursing homes. When patients and their families experience harm, a legal action may provide relief.