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How understaffing makes a nursing home dangerous

Lots of people end up in nursing homes or extended-care facilities. While many of them are elderly, just about anybody can have a stint in a nursing home after they've been in an accident or go through a serious medical event. That's the accepted and trusted method for providing long-term care for people who cannot care for themselves for a while.

The only problem is that many nursing homes are very understaffed -- and "understaffed" means "unsafe." Federal standards on nursing home staffing haven't changed in more than three decades -- despite the fact that our nation's aging population has increased dramatically. The level of care nursing home staff members are expected to provide has risen exponentially.

Nurses in such facilities are tasked with an almost impossible job. They may be asked to play therapist to patients with dementia who are confused or scared and intervene in patient-on-patient attacks. This is in addition to their normal routine, which can include:

  • Dispensing complex medications, including everything from blood pressure and heart medication to IVs
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels on their diabetic residents and provide insulin doses
  • Performing wound care and making sure that immobile residents are being turned properly to avoid bedsores
  • Monitoring vital signs of patients with serious conditions and providing assessments to physicians
  • Arranging for transport to area hospitals

In one survey, Georgia nurses indicated that each nurse may have as many as 50 patients to manage during an eight-hour shift. That's far too many for a nurse to provide an adequate level of care to each patient.

Nursing home operators will seldom provide more care than they're legally required to do -- and that puts patients at risk. If you or your loved one suffered a nursing home injury due to understaffing, you can seek a measure of justice through legal means. Find out more today.

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