Understaffing is a major problem in nursing homes across the country, and has generated dozens of family complaints across the state of New York in just the last few months. Understaffing allows the owners of elderly care facilities to generate greater profits, as money that should be used to pay for nurses and aides instead goes directly to the bottom line.
Understaffing is clearly dangerous, particularly for residents who require significant care. Many patients require help with basic needs, or are fall risks, or require a certain level of observation while using medications or medical devices. Though fewer aides and nurses may be able to provide the bare minimum in regards to these, emergencies will always happen.
When staffing is light, aides and nurses are forced to triage need, which is practically impossible to do without things falling between the cracks. A resident may use their call light to indicate requiring assistance to go to the restroom, or that a major fall has occurred, or that respiratory distress is occurring. Aides and nurses should respond to all call lights promptly for this reason, but some will likely get ignored in a rush.
CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) is acting to minimize these risks by instructing state inspectors to monitor facilities on weekends to make sure that proper staffing levels are in place at all times. CMS is using payroll records as well as anonymous reports to determine which facilities are skirting the rules, and then notifying the state organizations in charge of monitoring.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, determining what level of staffing was being provided is important. Gaining access to patient records as well as timesheets or other payroll information can be a major part of making your case. Please, consult with an experienced attorney for guidance on how to proceed.