Negligent Staffing Levels at Nursing Homes in Missouri & Kansas
Elder abuse and neglect are serious problems in Missouri and Kansas and throughout the United States. It is estimated that one in 10 Americans 60 years and older are the victims of elder abuse. Each year, as many as five million elderly adults in the U.S. are abused or neglected. Sadly, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse or neglect are reported to regulatory agencies or law enforcement authorities.
Abuse and neglect are common in nursing homes. Understaffing of nursing homes is one factor that can lead to elder abuse and neglect in the Kansas City area, and elsewhere in Missouri and Missouri, at long-term care facilities.
Why Are Nursing Homes Understaffed in Missouri & Kansas?
Private nursing homes are for-profit entities. They have a duty to provide adequate care for their residents, including providing adequate staff to meet resident needs. However, the company that owns the nursing home is also interested in making a profit. Therefore, some nursing homes cut corners by understaffing the facility.
Another problem that causes understaffing in nursing homes is low pay. Many employees who are directly responsible for the day-to-day care of patients are paid minimum wage. Working in a nursing home can be challenging and difficult. Because of the difficult working conditions and low pay, turnover is high at many nursing homes. Therefore, some facilities have a lack of qualified employees, which creates understaffing.
How Does Understaffing Result in Abuse and Neglect?
The consequences of understaffing can be devastating for residents. When there are not enough staff members to care for residents, residents have an increased risk for accidents and injuries. Malnutrition and dehydration are common in understaffed nursing homes because residents are not monitored during meals to ensure they receive proper nutrition and hydration. Psychological disorders, physical ailments, and other conditions are ignored and not treated. Patients may not receive their medication or proper personal hygiene because of understaffing.
Understaffing can also promote nursing home abuse. When there is a lack of staff members, there are fewer people to notice and report abuse. Patients who cannot articulate the abuse are often ignored by other staff members and doctors. If family members are not present, the patient may have no one to protect him or her in the event of abuse.
Federal and State Staffing Requirements for Nursing Homes
Federal and state laws mandate that most nursing homes maintain adequate staff to provide for the care of residents. Federal statutes require that nursing homes that receive Medicare funds have “sufficient nursing staff” to provide services that ensure the safety of residents and to maintain the physical, psychosocial, and mental wellbeing of the patients. Kansas and Missouri have also enacted laws regulating staffing of nursing homes within the state.
However, reports indicate that even with federal and state staffing standards and requirements, many nursing homes continue to be understaffed according to the levels recommended by most experts. Sadly, nursing home patients continue to be injured, abused, and neglected because of staffing problems and intentionally understaffing by many nursing homes.
Can a Nursing Home Be Held Liable for Injuries Caused by Understaffing?
Yes, nursing homes can be held liable for any damages or harm that result from understaffing in both Missouri and Kansas.
Nursing homes are legally required to provide a reasonable standard of care. Part of their standard of care is staffing the nursing home sufficiently to address the needs of nursing home residents.
Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable. Adequate staffing means having enough nurses on call to manage health issues or medical emergencies of elderly residents that may arise.
When a nursing home does not staff itself adequately, the nursing home breaches its legal duty of care that is owed to your loved one. It also violates the trust you placed in it.
Both Missouri and Kansas law allow a party to recover money for injuries and damages that result from a breach of the nursing home’s duty of care. This includes any injuries and damages that result from the failure to staff adequately.
Contact a Kansas City Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for Help
The Law Office of Kevin J. McManus represents clients in Missouri and Kansas. If you believe your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call 816-203-0143 to schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse attorney in Kansas City to discuss how to hold the facility accountable and help stop abuse from happening again.