Staffing levels in nursing homes are considered one of the most important factors in patient care. After all, it logically makes sense that the more people there are on hand to attend to patient needs, the more appropriately they can respond and address patient issues as they arise.
Of course, it’s unrealistic to assume that by hiring more staff all problems will miraculously disappear, but having an extra set of ears, eyes and hands around can certainly make a huge impact when a patient is in a situation where they need immediate attention. From the perspective a staff morale, having extra (or perhaps more appropriately, adequate) staff at a facility simply means that there’s staff can take comfort in the fact that there is a shared sense of responsibility.
Despite the benefits that adequate nursing home staffing has on both patients and staff, many nursing home operators simply view staffing levels as a tremendous expense and weight on their bottom lines. While some states have legislated to impose minimum staffing levels at facilities, the truth is that staffing levels are very arbitrary and vary considerably based upon the level of care that the patients require. What may be an appropriate staffing level for a facility with an active population can be downright dangerous for a facility that has a group of ill patients.
A recently filed nursing home neglect lawsuit alleges that the intentional under-staffing of a nursing home resulted in serious injuries to patients at the facility. According to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, five patients at Creekside Health Care Center in San Pablo, California allege that the facilities parent company Marniner Health Care, Inc. intentionally under-staffed the facility to the detriment of its patients. The systemic under-staffing is alleged to have resulted in situations where patients were: left unattended for extended periods, allowed to sit in soiled garments, over-medicated and allowed to develop pressure sores.
As an attorney who represents nursing home patients in personal injury cases, I see staffing levels continually at issue in my cases. As this civil lawsuit makes its way through the system, I hope that it brings much needed attention to this crucial issue in patient care.