Staffing Shortages and Infection Control Measures Still a Problem in Nursing Homes

From nursing homes in San Diego County to those elsewhere in Southern California and across the country, staffing shortages can lead to serious resident injuries as a result of passive neglect. In short, when a nursing home does not have a sufficient number of employees to provide appropriate care for residents based on individual resident needs, residents can sustain injuries like bed sores because they are not moving or broken bones in falls when they try to get out of bed or make it to the restroom themselves despite requiring assistance with these activities. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the significant staffing shortages that were identified at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic are persisting in nursing homes throughout the United States, along with problems concerning infection control measures and protocol.

Staffing Problems Could Be “Monumental”

A new report on nursing home safety, discussed by the Times, was recently prepared by the inspector general’s office at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report cited how the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for overseeing about 1.2 million nursing home residents nationwide, and for many of those residents at facilities in California and elsewhere, staffing issues are “monumental.” To be sure, the report identified “high levels of burnout, frequent employee turnover, and the burdens of constantly training new employees, some of whom fail to show up for their first day of work.”

While CMS is working to attract new nurses to the field with millions of dollars in scholarships and tuition reimbursement, staffing shortages are, for now, a significant issue. If nursing home residents do not have access to the level of care that is necessary for a skilled nursing facility to function properly, with appropriate attendance to all residents’ needs, residents can sustain injuries due to neglect. Beyond issues related to assistance with activities of daily living, an inadequate number of nurses can result in medical errors in nursing homes due to an insufficient amount of time reviewing patient records and administering medications, as well as diagnostic errors. 

Infection Control Measures Remain Problematic

In addition to significant staffing shortages, the inadequate infection-control measures identified at a wide range of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities at the start of the pandemic have not been remedied, according to the report.

Indeed, according to The New York Times, the “flawed infection-control procedures that contributed to the 170,000 deaths at nursing homes during the pandemic [are] still inadequate at many facilities” across the country. It is important to recognize that infection-control measures are not only designed to prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases that are common at nursing homes and can cause severe symptoms — and even death, in some cases — in elderly residents. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies pneumonia, streptococcus bacteria, norovirus, hepatitis B, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses as common causes of dangerous outbreaks at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is critical to know that nursing homes can be liable for harm caused by such outbreaks if infection-control procedures are inadequate.

Contact a San Diego Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer

If your elderly loved one was injured or harmed as a result of understaffing or inadequate infection-control procedures at a California nursing home, a San Diego nursing home neglect lawyer can help you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Study Cites California’s Poor Protections for Elderly Adults

New California Nursing Home Law Takes Effect


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