Short-staffed Nursing Homes Endanger Patients During the Holidays

In Georgia the cost of understaffed nursing homes is overwhelming.

Nursing home understaffing affects every measure of patient care. Over the holidays, the strain on the staff shows more than ever. Patients are endangered whenever nurses and orderlies skip work on holidays, weekends and unpopular late-night shifts.

How Overworked Health Care Workers Affect Patient Care

Health care workers have important jobs. Their skills are needed around the clock. Nursing assistants work long shifts caring for more than 25 patients in some cases. When workers are late or when someone calls in sick, one employee might do the work of four or five nursing assistants.

Nurses say that the excessive workload prevents them from caring for their patients adequately. If two residents need help, the nurse can’t attend to them at the same time. That’s why some long-term care facilities use patient-wandering alarms to replace skilled workers, but this system doesn’t prevent falls and injuries.

The Price of Understaffed Nursing Homes

The cost of understaffed nursing homes is overwhelming. The problem isn’t the health care workers. It’s the long-term care corporations that chose to grow their profits by reducing staff and endangering patients. They make their employees miserable by overworking them, and they make their patients sick by delivering substandard care.

Patients who are neglected often require lengthy hospital stays to treat injuries and infections. Taxpayers foot the bill for treatments that nursing homes could have prevented. In understaffed medical facilities, patients are more likely to suffer from the following ailments.

  • Anxiety
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  •  Falls
  • Fractures
  • Incontinence
  • Infections
  • Malnutrition
  • Unwanted weight loss

Protecting Your Loved Ones from Understaffed Nursing Homes

Both short and long-term staffing problems are more apparent during holidays. Visit your relatives regularly to compare staffing levels on weekends and weekdays. If you’re worried that your loved one isn’t receiving adequate care in a nursing home, discuss the situation with your relative. Patients recognize these problems and know when nurses are covering for co-workers.

Report your concerns to your local long-term care ombudsman. These volunteers work with patients, relatives, health care administrators and Georgia’s Division of Aging Services. If you haven’t reached a favorable resolution regarding understaffing, neglect or injuries, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help.