How Nursing Home Understaffing Can Lead to Senior Abuse and Neglect

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018 at 3:25 pm    

There comes a time when most of us need some form of regular medical assistance, whether from friends and family or a senior living facility. For those who need help with activities of daily living (ADLs), a nursing home is often the only option.

Unfortunately, nursing homes also have a reputation for abuse and neglect. Due to understaffing, residents are often abused and neglected by overworked and distracted medical professionals.

Nursing Home Understaffing Statistics

The level of understaffing in nursing homes is astonishing. According to a 2002 New York Times article, the Department of Health and Human Services found that more than 90 percent of nursing homes were insufficiently staffed at the time.1

The situation hasn’t improved much since then. In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity published their findings from a nationwide analysis of nursing home staff. They compared reports of staff numbers on the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare website with the costs nursing homes provided to the Medicare program.

The discrepancy between the data sets was enormous. Eighty percent of nursing homes reported more staff on Nursing Home Compare than in their financial documents. In other words, anyone who visited the government website received an overinflated staff estimate when researching their nursing home options.2

Why Nursing Homes Are Understaffed

There are two feasible explanations for nursing home understaffing:

  • Lack of willing nurses in the area
  • Owners deliberately cutting corners to reduce costs and increase profits

Some unsafe nursing homes are truly doing their best to provide for residents but cannot find or retain staff. Since nurses and nursing aides must undergo a significant amount of training, there may be a shortage of qualified professionals in the area.

On top of that, nursing homes are extremely demanding environments. Any one nurse or aide could be responsible for dozens of residents. Many nursing home employees work an overwhelming amount of overtime and end up burning out and quitting, worsening the staff shortage.

However, some nursing home owners have more nefarious motives. They intentionally understaff their facilities to save on skilled labor costs, boosting their own profits at the expense of resident safety and well-being.

Negative Effects of Understaffing Nursing Homes

Residents receive better care when more nurses are on staff. Abuse and neglect are often direct results of understaffing and lead to the following consequences:

  • Falls and injuries
  • Inability to use the restroom in a timely manner
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Inaccurate medication administration
  • Development of bedsores or infections
  • Being berated or forcefully moved by staff
  • Death

Nursing Home Staffing Regulations in Alabama

All nursing homes must abide by state law, and those that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding are also subject to federal regulations. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), nursing homes in the state must have:

  • A registered nurse who is available eight hours every day of the week
  • A full-time director of nursing who must be a registered nurse and can act as the charge nurse in facilities with up to 60 residents
  • “Sufficient staff” for the amount of residents3,4

Surveyors make unannounced visits to each facility to ensure they are complying with the rules. If a nursing home is understaffed, they may be issued a fine or put on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) special focus facility list.

Legal Help for Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Victims and Their Families in Alabama

While the staffing shortage in nursing homes is sometimes understandable and not the result of willful negligence, it’s still inexcusable. Many seniors fall victim to abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers, which can lead to illness, injury, psychological trauma and even death.

If your loved one has been subject to nursing home abuse or neglect, the injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP want to help. We can guide you through the tricky process of settlement negotiation or arbitration and fight for the justice your loved one deserves. Call us at (205) 324-1212 today for your FREE case evaluation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/18/us/9-of-10-nursing-homes-in-us-lack-adequate-staff-a-government-study-finds.html

https://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/11/12/16246/analysis-shows-widespread-discrepancies-staffing-levels-reported-nursing-homes

http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/providerstandards/assets/NursingFacilitiesRules.pdf

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/nursing_home_staffing_standards_in_state_statutes_and_regulations.pdf


Video – Discussion of Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists in Birmingham

Posted on Thursday, September 28th, 2017 at 8:59 pm    

JD Lawrence, Esq. and Bernard Nomberg, Esq. discuss the importance of underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance coverage.

Many people wrongly believe they are “fully covered” because they have collision, liability and medical payment coverage on their automobile insurance policy. However, they are unaware of the importance of having underinsured or uninsured insurance to protect you against the other driver who may not be properly or well insured.

Automobile insurance is critical if you need to bring a lawsuit against the other driver. If they do not have the proper coverage (or enough coverage) you will be unlikely to recover money, even if they are at fault. These coverages help protect you when the other person is at fault.

For example, if you are injured and receive a jury verdict for $200,000, what happens if the other driver only had $25,000 in coverage? Or none at all? That’s where you would turn to your underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage, to pay part of all of that verdict for you.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue or other issues on the law, please call the Farris, Riley & Pitt Law Firm at 205-324-1212


How Outrageous is a Tort of “Outrage?”

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 at 1:55 pm    

Salvador Dali has been quoted as saying: “the one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous.” As a personal injury lawyer, I whole-heartedly disagree.

Most people know that lawsuits can be filed for negligence or for a breach of contract, but in Alabama, lawsuits can also be filed for “outrage.” Outrage occurs when someone does something so outrageous and so extreme that it goes beyond all possible bounds of decency. Even if no negligence is involved, an outrage suit can be filed when a victim experiences emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it.

Stated differently, outrage claims are brought by victims after some of the worst events of their lives. In Alabama, claims of outrage have been taken to trial when, for example:

  1. an unlicensed funeral home employee illegally embalmed a family’s loved one and then buried the casket in the wrong direction;
  2. a 15-year-old girl was sexually molested by her friend’s stepfather;
  3. a pregnant woman was harassed by her boss for months until she finally was forced to quit her job;
  4. or a funeral home owner told a family they could no longer bury their father next to their mother a mere thirty minutes before the funeral.

So no, Mr. Dali, the world does not need any more of the outrageous.

To be fair, the tort of outrage is limited. Courts will not hear claims that involve – as former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sam Beatty wrote – “mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppression, or other trivialities.”

However, if you or a loved one has experienced something outrageous and atrocious at the hands of someone else and it has caused you severe distress, anxiety, embarrassment or pain – that experience is likely not trivial. I recommend contacting an attorney you trust to determine whether you have been the victim of outrage; in certain circumstances, especially those involving sexual assault or a family burial, you may be entitled to a legal remedy.


Making Miracles Happen, One Dollar at a Time

Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2016 at 9:07 pm    

At Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP, we are committed to improving the quality of life for our clients as well as members of our community. One of the ways we like to give back is through our sponsorship of the Children’s Miracle Network Music & Miracles Radiothon, an annual fundraiser that features local children sharing stories of how they overcame serious illnesses and injuries.

For the past seven years, the Radiothon has broadcasted live from the McWane Lobby at Children’s of Alabama. During the two-day event, listeners tune in to iHeartMedia stations Magic 96.5 and 103.7 The Q to hear the heart-warming stories of these brave youngsters, and also learn about the work that goes on inside the walls of Children’s through interviews with some of the doctors nurses and other health care providers who work there.

Our attorneys and staff members participate in the event by taking phone calls and donations from listeners who are moved to show their support for the children and families at the hospital.

Things got pretty interesting at this year’s Radiothon though, when Magic 96.5 DJ Rob Conrad shaved his head during the live broadcast. Dr. Fred Goldman, one of the hospital’s top pediatric hematologist-oncologists, challenged the radio audience that if someone matched his $2,000 donation, he’d shave his head. So Rob stepped up and said he’d let he’d let the kids shave his head too. Madigan Brasher, a patient at Children’s of Alabama, got the honor of cutting Rob’s hair off for her 15th birthday. Everyone in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to her after she finished the job.

The Music & Miracles Radiothon has raised more than $1 million for Alabama’s ill and injured children.

About Children’s of Alabama

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by US News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 42 other states and 10 foreign countries last year, representing more than 653,000 outpatient visits and nearly 14,000 inpatient admissions.

With more than 2 million square feet, it is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services across its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional specialty services provided at Children’s South, Children’s on 3rd and in Huntsville and Montgomery.

Primary care is provided at more than a dozen medical offices in communities across central Alabama. Children’s of Alabama is the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children.

It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. For more information, visit childrensal.org

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion—most of it $1 at a time—for 170 children’s hospitals across the United States and Canada, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most. These donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Right now there’s a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital working to save the lives of kids in your community. In fact, 62 children enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for treatment every minute — that’s one child every second. Some are battling cancer. Some are suffering from a traumatic injury. Others require constant care because they were born too early, or with a genetic disease. Regardless of why the kids are there, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals always have their doors open.

Our Commitment to Local Children in Need

Through leadership and service roles with local non-profit organizations, our attorneys and staff members seek to make a positive difference in the lives of others in our local community. At Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP, we take pride in applying our time skills and resources toward directly helping children in Alabama with life threatening injuries and illnesses.

Don’t Delay Getting Help Another day

You don’t have to suffer after an accident. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. There’s absolutely no fee unless we win.