Insight

Understaffed Nursing Homes Jeopardize Patient Safety

Around 70 percent of people currently turning 65 will require long-term care in their lifetime, and they will receive care for an average of three years.

Understaffed Nursing Homes
Steven G. Wigrizer

Steven G. Wigrizer

November 18, 2016 12:00 AM

It has been estimated that Pennsylvania has 2.2 million residents age 65 and older, which places the state fourth among all the states for percentage of people in that demographic sector. By 2030, citizens age 60 and older are projected to make up 29 percent of the Keystone State’s population and equal approximately four million people. More than 400,000 of those Pennsylvanians will be age 85 and over.

Many of these Baby Boomers will have health-related or personal care needs. Around 70 percent of people currently turning 65 will require long-term care in their lifetime, and they will receive care for an average of three years. With Pennsylvania’s 700 nursing homes averaging a 91 percent occupancy rate, it seems that an already heavily burdened system is about to become more strained. This is especially concerning, given a Department of Health (DOH) audit released in late July that found several deficiencies responsible for negatively affecting the quality of care at state nursing homes.

Examining operations from January 2014 to October 2015, the audit identified three main areas as troubling: inconsistent sanctions on underperforming facilities, improperly handling of complaints, and inadequate nurse staffing levels. While the DOH does have administrative discretion when pursuing sanctions, even the Auditor General agrees that “when a facility is not sanctioned but could have been, there needs to be an explanation.” The audit called out the DOH for ignoring anonymous complaints, in violation of federal requirements. That policy was changed toward the end of the audit period, which saw the number of complaints increase by 63 percent as a result.

Perhaps most alarming was the finding that ten percent of the nursing facilities could not prove reviews of staffing levels were conducted, 37 percent did not conduct reviews regularly, and only 50 percent could supply documentation that adequate levels of staffing were met. Without enough trained staff on hand, nursing home residents cannot receive the state-required minimum of 2.7 hours of daily care. Understaffed nursing home facilities have higher rates of patient abuse and neglect, with one of many studies reporting understaffing as contributing to increased incidences of severe bedsores, malnutrition, and abnormal weight loss among nursing home patients.

Understaffing can fray the nerves of even the most qualified nurses and lead to feelings of intense stress, as well as feelings of being overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid. With less time for individual care, the patients suffer. Poor working conditions, sparse budgets, and stressful environments don’t exactly inspire people to become nurses. Among those who do choose an eldercare career, some are inadequately trained, while others find they cannot cope with the emotional aspects of the job, leading to the endangerment of patients’ welfare.

Related Articles

Protecting Small Business Owners: Trial Experts Connick Law LLC Notoriously Successful with Fire Litigation


by Justin Smulison

When small business owners become the target of insurance companies in fire-related lawsuits, hiring a firm with a reputation for understanding the science of fire suppression trials can save their livelihoods.

Gold Indoor Sprinkler Heads on Red Background

Will Recent Boeing Settlements Create Tailwinds In Corporate Law?


by Justin Smulison

Prominent litigation against Boeing is setting a precedent of accountability, professionalism and commitment among company boards as well as ushering ESG further into the courtroom to help monitor and prevent safety issues.

Recent Boeing Settlements and Corporate Law

Colorado's Best Lawyers 2022


by Best Lawyers

Our 2022 Colorado's Best Lawyers publication features top-ranked legal talent in Boulder, Denver and Western Colorado.

Colorado's Best Lawyers 2022

Newly Launched COVID-19 Litigation Project Offers Open Access To Pandemic-Related Court Judgments From Over 70 Countries


by Sara Collin

A worldwide database of COVID-19 cases is uniting more than 70 countries as judges, lawmakers and lawyers continue to navigate pandemic related litigation and the ways in which it’s evolving amid year three.

COVID-19 Worldwide Litigation Project

Road to Somewhere


by Mark LeHocky

How can attorneys take steps to improve settlement efforts and avoid unpleasant surprises as they map out a dispute resolution? One litigator-turned-general counsel-turned mediator (with some help from a distinguished rock star) points the way forward.

Improved Dispute Resolution Settlement

Look for the Zoom Label


by Anne R. Yuengert and Matthew C. Lonergan

Will the virtual platforms that got such a boost during the pandemic replace how you interact with your employees, unions, and lawyers?

Virtual Platforms Replacing Work Interactions

Discovery in the Time of COVID-19


by H. Barber Boone

The pandemic has affected the vital process of legal discovery in ways both good and bad. Which changes are likely to become widely accepted in the years ahead?

The Impact of COVID-19 on E-Discovery

Busting a Trust


by Joseph Marrs

The rules governing trusts and asset distribution are often much more flexible than many might assume. Here’s a primer.

Rules Governing Trusts and Asset Distribution

The Next Chapter


by Patrick M. Shelby

Among its uncountable other disruptions, the pandemic upended U.S. bankruptcy procedures. Congressional relief, legislative changes, amended legal provisions: What lies ahead for those looking to file?

COVID-19's Impacts on Bankruptcy Procedures

Phoning It In


by Alyson M. St. Pierre, Ashley C. Pack and Crystal S. Wildeman

It’s not easy for employers to weigh requests from employees to work from afar, even in the wake of the pandemic. Considerations include COVID-19, vaccinations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the nature of the job itself.

Employer Considerations for Teleworking

Compelled to Compete


by Ashish Mahendru

Courts and legislatures—and now the White House—are taking an increasingly dim view of noncompete employment agreements, a development the pandemic has quickened. What can employers do to protect their confidential information?

Protection for Employers Beyond Noncompetes

Meeting Halfway


by Julia B. Meister

To resolve family and business disputes including wills, trusts, estates and more, mediation is often a more effective, gentler and cheaper option than litigation.

Mediation to Resolve Wills, Trusts, Estates

Look Out Below


by Mary Jo Larson

Employee 401(k) and other pension plans that include company stock can be a financial minefield. What’s a responsible fiduciary to do to lessen the risk of a plummeting share price—and the risk of a subsequent “stock-drop” lawsuit from aggrieved workers?

Navigating Employee 401(k) and Pension Plans

Family Law – Sometimes All in the Family


by Justin Smulison

Led by a father-and-son team of Family Law lawyers and trial advocates, with the support and assistance of family members, Blevans & Blevans, LLP continues its tradition of excellence serving the Northern California Bay Area in 2020 and beyond.

Blevans & Blevans

Achieving Justice For Essential Workers


by Justin Smulison

Patrick Regan of Regan Zambri Long describes how the recent resolution of a corporate negligence case brought closure to survivors of a fatal 2016 apartment building explosion.

Patrick Regan Best Lawyers 2021

Is It Live . . . Or Is It Virtual?


by Adrian L. Bastianelli III, Kevin J. O'Connor, Paulo Flores and Robert S. Peckar

Mediation via Zoom is just one of the legal-industry oddities the pandemic has wrought. Here’s a cheat sheet for how to make it work for you—and some thoughts on whether it’s here to stay.

Virtual Mediation

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees


by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023


by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Could Reign Supreme End with the Queen?


by Sara Collin

Canada is revisiting the notion of abolishing the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, but many Canadians and lawmakers are questioning if Canada could, should and would follow through.

Teacup on saucer over image of Queen's eye

IN PARTNERSHIP

2022: Another Banner Year


by John Fields

Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to secure some of New York’s highest results for personal injury matters.

Three men in business suits standing in office

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some


by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees


by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers


by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom


by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Thirteen Years of Excellence


by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background

The Upcycle Conundrum


by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect


by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests


by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023


by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes