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Understaffing Leads to Nursing Home Abuse

Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have not received much public attention aim to reform nursing home staff reporting procedures and train staff in dementia and prevention of abuse, including the unwarranted use of antipsychotics to sedate residents. Lack of training and insufficient patient-staff ratios both contribute to the widespread elder abuse in nursing homes across the country.

Nursing home experts recommend that residents receive at least four hours of care per day, but given that 90 percent of these care facilities are understaffed, most seniors receive less than three hours. It is common for overworked staff to check off items on resident charts when these tasks have actually not been completed. Some seniors are overmedicated so they are not so active. Others suffer because the staff has not taken the time to give them all their prescribed medications on time.

The low pay in this field and high turnover rates also make it difficult to train staff members in procedures necessary to prevent pressure sores and dehydration, two common problems that account for serious injury and death in this vulnerable population. Facilities that are desperate to hire are also less likely to run adequate background checks. One recent report found that 92 percent of nursing homes had hired a staff member with a prior criminal conviction.

Any family who has a loved one in a nursing home should be aware of the signs of neglect or abuse, and take immediate steps to notify the authorities. When there has been a serious injury or wrongful death due to the negligence of a nursing home, you need a personal injury law firm with the experience and knowledge to make a strong case.

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