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Shayna Slater
Shayna Slater
Attorney • (215) 735-0773

Profits Over Patients: The Problem of Understaffing in Nursing Homes

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For profit nursing homes are exactly that: run for a profit. It’s a business and the bottom line matters. As much as we would like to believe that nursing homes strive to provide quality care and treatment, this is not always the case. I do not intend to lump all nursing homes into this category. However, there are nursing homes that purely focus on profits over patients. When this occurs, one of the most likely areas affected is staffing. An understaffed nursing home cannot properly care for its residents. As nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are pressured to care for more patients, residents’ basic needs are compromised. Understaffing is often a large factor in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Understaffing results in the staff being overworked and allows them too little time to properly address each residents needs.

Patients in an understaffed nursing home often have their call bells ignored or even worse, those patients unable to press their call bells or communicate their complaints, may go unattended for extended periods of time. Understaffing leads to residents suffering from an increased risk of infection, bed sores, dehydration and malnutrition. If a CNA does not have the time to change a resident or reposition him frequently enough, a bed sore can form which could cause infection, sepsis and even death. Understaffing is a problem that can cause serious health issues for residents. In addition to health ramifications, understaffing also increases the risk of physical, mental and verbal abuse. Employees who are overworked, stressed for time and pressured to get a specific amount of work completed, may not have the time or patience that it takes to complete such tasks in a kind and compassionate manner.

If you have a loved one entering a Nursing Home, ask about the facility’s current employee to patient ratio and get updates periodically throughout your loved ones stay as this number may be subject to change frequently. How do we punish nursing homes that are placing profits over their patients? You hit them where it hurts: their pocketbook. Unfortunately, costing these nursing homes money may be the only way to effectuate change. These nursing homes should have to pay for their bad treatment.