The COVID-19 pandemic is causing major disruptions and serious illness concerns in San Diego County and throughout California. Nursing home residents, many of whom are elderly, are not only in a vulnerable age group when it comes to serious COVID-19 infections, but many nursing home residents also have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk for severe infection and even death. To prevent COVID-19 infections in nursing homes, in addition to providing a high quality of care to avoid nursing home neglect injuries, facilities should in theory be improving on the nurse-to-patient ratios required by the state.
Yet according to a recent article in NPR, the state relaxed its nurse-to-patient ratios in mid-December 2020, which ultimately means that fewer nursing home patients are getting the level of care they need.
Staffing Problems Often Result in Nursing Home Neglect Injuries
When it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect in California and across the country, there are many different forms of abuse. In some cases, abuse is intentional—such as when nursing home employees engage in physical, verbal, or emotional abuse of patients. But many nursing home abuse injuries do not occur out of malice, but rather out of passive neglect. In facilities throughout San Diego County, there are not enough staff members to provide the level and quality of care that is necessary to prevent injuries like bedsores or falls.
Nurse-to-patient ratios are in place, in part, to prevent the types of nursing home abuse injuries that result from passive neglect. Yet with COVID-19 infections surging, nurses are needed in emergency departments and hospital rooms to care for the sick. Ultimately, nursing shortages mean that patients may not receive as much attention as they should. For nursing homes and elderly patients, fewer hours with nurses could result in more injuries and deaths.
Nursing Shortages Mean Patients Could Suffer
There are simply more patients than nurses when it comes to the nurse-to-patient ratio in California. As the NPR article explains, due to surging COVID-19 infections across the state, California “is asking nurses to take care of more patients simultaneously than they normally would, watering down . . . the nurse-to-patient ratio.” According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the relaxed restrictions on the state’s nurse-to-patient ratio are “very short-term” and temporary, but the consequences could be significant.
Asking nurses to care for even more patients can mean that none of the patients receive the level of care they need, and for elderly patients, limited care could be devastating. Further, according to NPR, asking nurses to take on additional patients could result in more nurses becoming burned out and unable to do their jobs to their full capacity.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in San Diego County
Nursing home residents and elderly patients can sustain serious and life-threatening injuries when facilities are understaffed and nurses are overworked. If you have an elderly loved one who may have suffered harm due to nursing home neglect, it is critical to seek advice from one of our experienced San Diego County nursing home abuse lawyers about filing a claim. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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