About 1.5 million Americans live in our nation’s 16,000 nursing homes.
Despite federal and state laws intended to safeguard residents, abuse and neglect in nursing homes is widespread. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that at least 1 in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of negligence or abuse. The Center also found that 57% of nurses’ aides in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and even participated in, acts of negligence or abuse. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that nursing home negligence played a role in the deaths of nearly 14,000 nursing home patients in one three-year period.
The frequency of intentional abuse in nursing homes is too high, but the real problem behind the large number of nursing home injuries and deaths is unintended negligence. Most nursing homes are operated by corporations who are in business to make a profit. The nature of a profit-driven business tends to maximize profits at the expense of the residents’ health and safety. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that, sadly, deficiencies reported in for-profit nursing homes are 31% higher than those reported in not-for-profit nursing homes.
Understaffed and Underfunded Nursing Homes
Almost universally, nursing facilities are understaffed, and the staff members are poorly trained. One Congressional inquiry resulted in published opinions of members of Congress stating that 90% of our nursing homes have staffing levels too low to provide adequate care. Even studies done by industry groups show that more than half of nursing homes are below the suggested levels for nurses’ aide staffing, and 1 in 4 are below the suggested staffing levels for all employees. Nurses’ aides provide most of the needed care, yet they are the lowest paid and least-trained staff members. Low pay and work overload often result in poor morale, high absenteeism, and high turnover rates. The residents pay the price in the form of poor care.
Preventing Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
As a nursing home resident or the family member of a resident, you can help prevent nursing home abuse and neglect. Below are a few steps that should be taken:
- Know Your Rights: Understand what rights you have as a nursing home resident or family member of a resident. Check Federal and State Laws. There are many helpful websites, including NH Regulations Plus.
- Review the Nursing Home’s Report Card: Check with Nursing Home Compare, the official U.S. Government site for people with Medicare.
- Visit the Nursing Home: Make an unannounced visit to the nursing home and check to see how clean the facility is and whether the care providers are responsive to residents’ needs.
- If you or a family member has suffered a significant injury, and if you believe it was the result of abuse or negligent care, contact a lawyer.
Call us. At Norman and Graves, our Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers will discuss with you the problems that have occurred concerning your nursing home resident. If we think there is a chance we can help you, we will obtain the necessary records and investigate the claim. Let us put our experience to work for you.