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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Staffing

A lack of qualified nursing home staff is a major contributing factor in nursing home abuse and neglect.

Caregiving is the most important feature of nursing homes and all long-term care facilities, and therefore adequate staffing must be maintained in order to ensure the highest quality of care to residents. This incudes the reduction and prevention of instances of abuse and neglect. However, many reports indicate that as many as 95 percent of the nursing homes in America may be understaffed.

Residents of nursing homes with limited nursing staff are more likely to report increased health problems or incidents of poor care.

Inadequate staffing in nursing homes results in resident problems such as:

  • High urinary catheter use causing more urinary tract infections.
  • Low rates of skin care intended to prevent bedsores.
  • Lack of resident mobility/exercise needed to prevent muscle atrophy and contractions.
  • Failure to assist residents with eating/drinking that leads to malnutrition, dehydration and starvation.
  • Small participation in physically and mentally stimulating activities.

Studies have found that long-term care facilities with higher mandated nursing staff ratios have far fewer serious violations. This suggests that the act of raising state minimum staffing ratios has a direct impact on the quality of care nursing home residents receive. But, different states have varying definitions of proper staffing levels for nursing homes that are required for certification.

As labor is one of the most costly expenses in a nursing home, management often dictates unreasonable patient to staff ratios, which can contribute to instances of abuse and neglect. Therefore, the barrier to adding more nursing personnel is usually cost. However, there are ways in which increasing staff ratios can actually save facilities money, while improving the quality of care offered.

Consider the following:

  1. Understaffing can indirectly contribute to physical and mental abuse, as overwhelmed staff members and caregivers will be more likely to abuse a patient. Additional personnel can improve staff morale and productivity, and even reduce the high number of on-the-job injuries
  2. High turnover due to unreasonable demands can further increase understaffing issues. Staff often become frustrated when they are unable to provide quality care to residents. Higher staffing would reduce this need for employees to work overtime, and allow them to provide adequate care, which results in lower personnel turnover and reduces costs associated with hiring and training.
  3. Understaffed nurses often struggle to feed and administer medications to all their patients on a regular schedule. Adding more staff would reduce this burden and result in a reduction of costs of supplies and drugs, as residents who are provided active, attentive care experience fewer complications.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must be held accountable for patients that have suffered wrongful death or serious injury as a result of nursing home understaffing. This form of neglect is a problem that will only benefit from increasingly strict laws and penalties and increased public awareness. Find more nursing home abuse and neglect resources, download a FREE copy of Hupy and Abrahams ultimate Guide for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims today.

If you or a loved one have experienced abuse or neglect due to understaffing, Hupy and Abraham is able to assist victims in taking steps to recover costs associated with negligent understaffing of nursing homes. Call 800-800-5678 for a free consultation, or start a live chat with us now at