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Lack of staffing makes residents vulnerable to nursing home abuse

The decision to seek qualified residential care for an aging loved one is seldom an easy one for families. In spite of the time and effort that goes into selecting a facility that appears to meet the needs of the resident, it is not always possible to protect a loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect. One of the most pressing concerns for these facilities here in Georgia and elsewhere is the lack of trained staff.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducts reviews of facilities as well as keeps records of complaints. One of the most often cited issues is substandard care, which administrators blame on staffing. This is becoming a problem in nursing homes around the country as staff turnover and low pay are making it difficult for facilities to retain the staff required to meet the needs of residents.

One resident, who is also the chairman of the resident’s board at his facility, has himself been a victim of negligent care, including medication errors. He reported that there had been an estimated 23 mistakes within a two-month span, including one that should have required in-patient hospitalization for observation. Other complaints involve leaving residents in soiled clothing and staff who have turned off the call light system.

One healthcare system that operates more than 400 facilities has been the recipient of numerous complaints — including a wrongful death claim — that stem mainly from problems with staffing levels and lack of proper funding. Researchers have found that even the lack of one qualified nurse leads to higher mortality rates and poor outcomes for residents. Whenever a Georgia family believes that a loved one has suffered harm from nursing home abuse or neglect, they are entitled to file a formal complaint with the proper authorities. They may also seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can provide assistance in recovering the monetary damages they may have sustained.

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