Older woman's hand being held

Are Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Causing Increased Injury Risk?

There is no denying the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the nursing home industry. Not only has it brought about new challenges but it has exasperated existing challenges as well. Issues like staffing shortages and high turnover rates have only gotten worse over the last few years.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may wonder how these current conditions will affect their safety. Below, we’ll cover a range of topics, like whether the staffing shortage has increased the risk of injury. 

Increased Risk of COVID-19

Since the onset of the pandemic, the nursing home community has lost more than 200,000 people to the virus—including both staff members and residents. Of course, this huge number is due in part to the vulnerable nature of nursing home residents and their susceptibility to contagious diseases. 

However, studies seem to indicate that there is another reason for the high number of pandemic-related nursing home deaths: the staffing shortage. As care facilities struggle to give their residents full support, infections and deaths soar. 

As this problem continues to take its toll, the need for vaccinated staff members grows even more critical. In the meantime, you may wonder what else your loved one has to worry about. 

What We Know

Recent studies have shown that the majority of nursing home facilities are not meeting the staffing standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Sometimes this is out of necessity; other times it is done by choice to save money. Whatever the reason, residents are always the group who suffer most. 

When there is a poor nurse-to-resident ratio, nurses feel more stress, and the risk of abuse or neglect rises. As you might imagine, this can lead to injury, infection, psychological problems, and even death. 

If you are about to place your loved one in a nursing home or care facility, make sure to do your research beforehand. Ask for recommendations from friends and family members, speak to staff members so you can get a feel for the environment, and try making a visit to the facility on multiple occasions. 

The Most Common Causes of Nursing Home Injuries

Even when you perform your due diligence when placing a loved one in a care home, there is still a risk of injury or illness. We want you to be aware of the most common injuries sustained in nursing homes so you know what to watch for. 

1. Falls

According to the CDC, almost ¾ of all nursing home residents experience a fall. It’s not uncommon for a patient to sustain multiple falls in a given year. Because the elderly are more likely to suffer from muscle weakness or gait problems, some degree of risk is to be expected. But other details, like wet floors or poor lighting, can increase the risk. 

2. Bedsores

There is no excuse for bedsores in a nursing home, yet they remain one of the most common types of injuries that occur there. Keep in mind that while a bedsore may start as a mild injury, it can quickly worsen and lead to infection or death.

3. Overdosing/Improper Medication

When a nursing home resident requires medication, you trust the facility to provide the proper dosage. In the wrong setting, an overworked or overstressed caregiver might accidentally provide the wrong dose — leading to potentially deadly consequences.

Facing an Injury from a Nursing Home?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home, call Hunt Law Firm. We handle personal injury and wrongful death cases in Northern New Mexico.