Federal guidelines for nursing home staffing fail to mandate minimum levels necessary for safety, leading to a rash of falls and other injuries due to failure to answer call lights or monitor at-risk patients. Across the country, people who need care in nursing homes are falling or suffering significant injury due to substandard care.
Federal rules allow states a great deal of leeway in setting nursing home staffing levels, though recent changes in these guidelines no longer allow care facilities to self-report this information. Self-reporting was an easily abused system, allowing nursing homes to rely on scheduling that was never fulfilled or other workarounds to avoid proper staffing levels. Instead, payroll hours are used to determine staffing ratios. But by not setting reasonable minimum requirements for what those ratios must be, different facilities provide drastically different levels of supervision, and it can be difficult for patients and families to determine whether staffing is sufficient.
Although fines are implemented to punish facilities when patients suffer disability or death due to negligence, even hefty fines are often unable to reel in under-staffing. For many nursing homes, rolling the dice and saving money by keeping nursing hours at a minimum ensures great profit, even with the potential for fines. In some areas, nurses and other care workers have gone on strike and protested in front of facilities to draw attention to how poorly many place are staffed.
If your loved one suffered due to a fall or other incident at a nursing home, and you believe the staffing levels were not sufficient to ensure safety, please consult with an experienced attorney regarding your case. Though guidelines and requirements are often ignored by these facilities, a qualified lawyer can guide you through the legal red tape to ensure the nursing home is held responsible for its inaction.