A new Medicare program is aimed at reducing medical costs, while improving quality of care for the elderly, The Arizona Republic reported on December 20, 2011. Instead of paying doctors after each patient visit, the new health initiative gives health providers a budget within which they must work. The only way to increase this budget is by proving that they provide a high quality of care for their patients. Unfortunately, no such program exists for skilled nursing facilities, so they are often guilty of operating at quality levels much below standard. The quality of care that a nursing home provides is reliant upon its staff’s ability to meet the needs of its patients. Inadequate staffing refers not only to the amount of staff available, but also to the quality of care that they provide.
Understaffing occurs when nursing homes fail to meet the legal standard that requires them to provide patients with an adequate amount of staff to meet all their needs, which California law has quantified as a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient, per day. Inadequate staffing is directly linked to quality of care because when a facility is understaffed, its quality of care declines significantly.
Nurses are often forced to work extended shifts when their skilled nursing facilities are understaffed. These longs shifts increase nurses’ chances of memory lapses, confusion, and slowed judgment, according to a recent study. Consequently, staffing errors occur, putting the lives of the residents in danger, as these mistakes are often fatal. When a care facility is directly responsible for the death of a patient, a Wrongful Death claim can be made by the patient’s successors as compensation for personal loss and suffering.
In other cases, nurses, pressed for time, may shortcut their caretaking procedures and resort to practices that constitute elder abuse. Such practices include, but are not limited to, the use of restraint, which can be either physical or chemical. They are used for the purpose of subduing patients and making them easier to care for. However, regardless of the justification that nurses give in support of restraints, the use of restraints, whether chemical or physical, is a direct violation of Patients’ Rights, which state that patients may only be restrained for medical purposes, but, in any case, are always entitled to refuse treatment.
If you or a loved one were victims of nursing home abuse in Hermosa Beach, La Canada Flintridge, or the City of Industry we encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation. Often, victims of neglect sustain injuries that lead to death. Under these circumstances, his or her successors may be able to file a Wrongful Death claim. If you feel that you are in a similar situation, our team of experts can help you. We will fight relentlessly for your rights until a just resolution has been achieved.