Difficulty in Staffing is Not an Excuse for Injury, Abuse, or Neglect

Difficulty in Staffing is Not an Excuse for Injury Abuse or Neglect

In most instances, the staff quality of a nursing home will be the single most important factor in determining whether a loved one is at risk of injury.

With the current low employment, many nursing homes and care facilities are finding that it is increasingly difficult to find competent employees (at least at the wages that are being offered).  As a result, less qualified workers are often being hired, or, in many cases, there simply are not enough employees on staff to handle the needs of the residents of a facility.  Consequently, residents are often put at increased risk of injury, abuse, and neglect.

Investigative Report

  • 117,000 people reside in nursing homes in New York state.
  • New York ranks 41st in the country in reported total nurse staffing hours per resident per day, and 41st in reported nursing aide staffing hours per resident per day.
  • New York ranks 40th in the country in reporting registered nurse staffing hours per resident per day, and 37th in reported licensed staffing hours per resident per day.

As part of our practice we interview former nursing home staff, who speak of being “grinded down” and overloaded at work. Aides tell of being responsible for up to 35 residents at one time.  Others interviewed also provided heart-wrenching accounts of the poor treatment of loved ones. Many times the staff are victimized as much as the residents.

Staffing is Not Just a Numbers Issue at Nursing Homes

To effectively care for residents, it’s critical to have the right staffing mix.

As an example, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) will have more training than untrained staff.  Doctors and nurses will have more training than CNAs.

In staffing a facility, increasing the number of staff by employing more untrained staff and fewer CNAs and nurses will not make residents safer.  Facility directors, therefore, must carefully take into account the staffing needed at different levels to provide proper care for residents, not just the total number of staff needed.

New York Lacks Minimum Staffing Requirements for Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facilities

New York does not have any numerical staffing requirements for nursing homes or care facilities.  As a result, because most facility owners are highly concerned about maximizing profits (and avoiding losses), there are financial incentives to minimize the number of staff hired, as well as to hire staff that are less qualified (as these employees can be paid less).

Should We Accept Nursing Home Excuses that Blame Injuries and Matters on Staffing Difficulties?

Of course not.

When we entrust the care and welfare of our parents and loved ones to a nursing home or other care facility we expect – and they deserve – adequate treatment and care commensurate with their needs.

Residents do not deserve to be at a high risk of a fall injury because there are too few staff members to assist them, nor do they deserve bedsores or pressure sores because staff did not know how to turn them at prescribed intervals to prevent such injuries from occurring.  And no one deserves to be told that their loved one died from choking because adequate precautions were not implemented due to lack of staffing or training.

The Excuses that Nursing Homes Make

Understaffing as the result of market conditions is perhaps the latest in a long line of excuses that nursing homes frequently make in seeking to avoid liability when injuries occur. Other excuses we hear:

“They were old and going to die anyway.”

“When they left our facility for the hospital, they were in good health.  Something must have happened to them on the way to the hospital.”

“They were old and sick, and there was simply no way to prevent their fall/pressure sore/other injury.”

“The injury happened when (name of individual) was on staff; that person is no longer here.”

At our firm, we’ve heard the list of excuses. We need to hear acceptance of responsibility and accountability, not a blame game.

Nursing homes need to ensure that proper care is provided to all residents.  Period.

If a nursing home can’t provide proper care due to staffing, they should raise their wages to attract qualified staff members, not accept the resident or shut their doors.

If a loved one has suffered an injury or death in a nursing home or care facility, please call our firm.

We offer a free consult to determine if your loved one’s injury or death was likely the result of negligence, abuse, or neglect.  As we accept nursing home cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no fee for our services unless compensation is obtained.

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NY Injury Center