Articles Tagged with nursing home abuse

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Understaffing  at nursing homes is a primary cause of abuse and neglect at these facilities.  The  White House has moved to tackle such neglect by imposing a minimum staffing requirement on nursing homes.

In  the final version of the new rule, the Biden administration has clarified that at least one  nursing  staff member should be present in a nursing home 24 hours of the day. The rule also requires these facilities to have enough staff members to provide at least 3.18 hours of care for every resident in a facility in a day.  The rule also includes a requirement  for nursing home facilities to properly assess the health needs of every single resident in   their facility,  to help speed up the diagnosis and treatment of sicker residents.

In September, the administration invited comments from the public about the proposed new rule, and received more than 48,000 comments from the public. These comments involved residents who had been forced to lay on the floor for a long time after falling down because staff was not available to attend to them, and older residents  who had to sit in their own filth for hours without being cleaned up.  Other comments said that residents were often not fed on time,  leading to malnutrition. All of these cases of neglect are the direct result of understaffing at nursing homes, a serious problem that has worried the federal administration for decades.

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Many nursing homes in the United States continue to face staffing shortages and struggle with controlling infections in their facilities. Both issues present serious health and safety concerns for residents. Unfortunately, neither challenge is easily addressed.

According  to a new report, many nursing facilities in the United States continue to have problems with retaining staff and struggle with low staffing levels. The report was released by the Inspector General’s Office at the Department of Health and Human Services and states that high levels of employee attrition rates, huge employee turnover and employee burnout are to blame for many of these staffing shortages.

Many nursing facilities now grapple with the challenges of not just losing experienced employees, but also training fresh hires to meet federal standards.  Lower numbers of staff members on roll or fewer trained staff members mean a higher risk of  abuse  and neglect at these nursing facilities. Many experienced workers fled the industry during the pandemic when nursing homes were found to have the highest levels of Covid-19 infection rates, and most nursing homes that lost large numbers of workers are still struggling to meet the shortfall.  Recruitment and staffing firms that supply workers to these nursing homes are also charging higher rates than earlier, putting more pressure on the facilities.

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The  federal administration has announced that it will soon launch an investigation of the wrongful use or overuse of antipsychotic drugs on patients in nursing homes.

The  administration has long been investigating the misuse of antipsychotic sedatives, including those that  are typically prescribed for nursing home patients who do not require these drugs at all.  In too many cases, investigators have found nursing homes wrongly classifying certain patients as schizophrenic so that they may be prescribed antipsychotic sedative drugs.  The administration has also found several nursing homes engaging in these practices and wants to understand whether these practices are widespread in the industry.  The  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services believes that the problem is a prevalent one, and that its scope has not been fully investigated.  Therefore, it has now announced that it will soon launch an investigation of such practices in the nursing home industry.

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that is characterized by symptoms that include delusions, hallucinations and other symptoms.  Antipsychotic drugs  are often used to treat patients with schizophrenia.    Side effects of these medications can include death. It is estimated that less than 1% of the American population suffers from schizophrenia.  However,  more than 99 nursing homes classify as many as 20% of their patients with schizophrenia.  That is a disproportionately  large percentage  of nursing home residents  who are being diagnosed with this condition, relative to the American population with schizophrenia.  In  other words, the math simply does not add up here.

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