According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, understaffing in nursing homes is a huge issue. In almost half the nursing homes in the U.S., not all staff positions are fulfilled, and the homes are not properly maintained. In understaffed nursing homes with employees who are overworked, residents are often abused and/or neglected.

When a person puts his or her loved one into a nursing home for assistance with care, the person entrusts the staff to provide him or her with the necessary care and attention. Depending on the severity of the medical situation, some residents require constant monitoring because they suffer from conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other conditions. If those residents are not properly monitored they could leave the premises and get hurt.

In addition, insufficient staffing at nursing homes can lead to a variety of preventable medical conditions including bed sores. Bed sores can be easily prevented if staff members reposition a patient every few hours, help them get up to use the restroom, keep the patient as clean as possible, use skin mapping to prevent bed sores, and identify and treat bed sores early on. If bed sores are allowed to develop and they aren’t properly treated, they can lead to serious health problems including infection and even death.

Another problem that often happens when a nursing home is short staffed is that residents are not given help with their mobility needs. On average most nursing homes have 35 or 40 patients, with a small number of certified nursing assistants per shift. Usually at least half of those patients require assistance to get to the restroom or take a shower or even to stay active. Some patients may need the assistance of two people. If there are not enough staff, patients may get dropped or may attempt to move on their own, which can result in a fall. Patients may also wet their bed if they are not able to get assistance to go to the restroom, which can result in embarrassment as well as the possibility for developing an infection or a bedsore if left untreated.

If you believe your loved one’s nursing home is understaffed, there are steps you should take. First, look for the signs of understaffing and neglect, which can include poor hygiene, bed sores, malnutrition or dehydration, dirty clothing, lack of medical care, hunger, unexplained falls, patients being alone for extended periods of time, and complaints of neglect. If you see these signs, you should immediately talk with the nursing home’s director. It’s the duty of the director and other administrators to remain aware of what is going on at the facility. If any abuse or neglect of an elderly resident occurs, the facility, management, and staff members can be held legally liable.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe in the rights of the elderly to receive the treatment to which they are entitled in a long-term care facility. If an individual is neglected or mistreated in a nursing home, the resident’s legal rights should be exercised, which may include filing a lawsuit against the nursing home.

Call the San Francisco-Oakland personal injury attorneys at Liberty Law if you have reason to believe that your loved one was harmed in a nursing home. We provide free consultations, and if we choose to take your case you pay us nothing unless we obtain compensation for you. Call us today at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000 to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.

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