Inadequate Staffing in Nursing Homes: A Life-and-Death Issue, Kentucky

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Businesses in Kentucky do a better job if they have enough employees to do the jobs required in a satisfactory manner—this seems like so much common sense. The repercussions of having insufficient staff include employees with short tempers, jobs being done shoddily or not at all, and unhappy customers. When you consider what is at stake in short-staffed nursing homes, the most significant is the lives and health of patients. 

Of course, businesses need to make a profit, and nursing homes are a business. If the corporate owners choose to save money and increase their profit by keeping fewer staff than are required to provide a minimum level of care, however, they are not only jeopardizing their customers—they are opening themselves up to lawsuits.

The Advantages of Sufficient Staffing

According to an article in Gerontologist, as cited by the American Association for Justice, nursing homes that have low staff turnover and enough staff to provide a decent quality of service yield the following benefits:

  • residents with fewer bedsores, or pressure ulcers;
  • fewer patients who need to be catheterized;
  • a reduction in the number of urinary tract infections;
  • less malnutrition and dehydration;
  • less use of antibiotics;
  • higher resident participation in activities;
  • higher probability of being discharged;
  • less likelihood of dying; and
  • improved patient outcomes in general.

Dangers of Too Few Staff Members

One of the main reasons that elderly nursing home residents die is because they do not receive enough food. Many residents need assistance to eat; some even need help getting a drink of water. If the nursing home has each of its employees caring for an unreasonable number of residents, those residents who need help with eating and drinking will begin to suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, and starvation. 

In the same way that an overworked staff means that patients do not get the help they need to eat and drink, it also means that there are not enough staff to help with hygiene. Many patients need help using the bathroom, or perhaps just getting to the bathroom. Some need someone to help them bathe and brush their teeth. If there aren’t enough staff members available to take care of these needs, residents may have soiled clothes or bedding, skin infections, and urinary tract or bladder infections. 

When staff are spread thin throughout the nursing home, they cannot keep patients from sitting or lying in one place too long. This can lead to pressure ulcers, which can quickly become infected if not treated quickly. Without enough staff to keep residents up and moving when they are able, residents can develop muscle atrophy. 

Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?

If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.