Massachusetts Elder Abuse Lawyer Warns of Inadequate Staffing in Nursing Homes

Law Firm Newswire



Boston, MA (Law Firm Newswire) April 9, 2012 – Boston Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorney Bernard J. Hamill says families need know that there is a direct correlation between staffing levels and the neglect of elders in nursing homes.

Inadequate staffing of nurses and certified nurse aides (CNA’s) lead to pressure sores, dehydration, and medication errors. Staffing shortages are a primary cause of improper charting in long term care facilities. The staffing levels required by State regulations are a minimum standard. Federal regulations state that staffing must be sufficient to provide optimum care. So a nursing facility can satisfy state minimal staffing levels and yet violate federal requirements. Further, nurse staffing, even according to more lax state regulations must be competent, trained and supervised. Low staffing leads to bad morale and uncompleted tasks that place elders at risk for injury and sickness. For example, nurse aides are required to turn and reposition immobile elders to prevent pressure ulcers. When staff is short, residents aren’t turned leading to painful and even deadly stage 4 pressure ulcers. RNs must properly assess nursing home residents’ needs. Nurses must plan care, implement care and treatment, and evaluate residents’ status. Nurses must be licensed. Nursing homse must have at least one RN for at least 8 straight hours a day, 7 days a week, and an RN or LPN on duty 24 hours per day.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs): Certified nursing assistants work under the direction of a licensed nurse to assist residents with activities of daily living, i.e., eating, grooming, hygiene, dressing, transferring, repositioning and toileting. All full time CNAs must have completed a competency evaluation program or nurse assistant and attend pursue continuing education yearly. CNAs provide care to nursing home residents twenty four hours per day, seven days a week. Some nursing homes might require more nursing staff due to the conditions of their residents, and other factors such as whether the nursing home has special care units.

To determine staffing sufficiency, you should always look at the State Inspection Results, particularly any Quality of Life or Quality of Care deficiencies. Each nursing home reports its staffing hours to its state survey agency. These staffing hours are from a two-week period just before the state inspection. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gets nursing home staffing data from the states. CMS converts the staffing hours reported by the nursing home into a measure that shows the number of staff hours per resident per day. The staffing hours per resident per day are reported by type of staff, and all staff combined as a total. Staffing hours per resident per day is the average amount of hours worked divided by the total number of residents. It doesn’t necessarily show the number of nursing staff present at any given time, or reflect the amount of care given to any one resident. Caution: These staffing numbers are based on information reported by the nursing home. They represent staffing levels for a two-week period prior to the time of the state inspection. Currently there is no system to fully verify the accuracy of the staffing data that nursing homes report. Because of this limitation and because staffing levels may have changes since the last inspection, you should be cautious when interpreting the data.

The Hamill Firm of Quincy, Massachusetts concentrates their practice on advocating for elderly nursing home residents and has a successful track record of verdicts and settlements including some of the highest emotional distress verdicts ever awarded in Massachusetts for nursing home abuse. The Hamill group encourages all residents injured by neglect in Massachusetts nursing homes to call for a free evaluation of their claim.

If an elder has been injured or died in a Massachusetts nursing home, they may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and or statutory wrongful death damages.

The Hamill firm represents elders victimized by nursing home assaults and pressure ulcer deaths.

For more information contact the Hamill group at (617) 479-4300 or contact the Hamill Law website.

Attorney Bernard J. Hamill
The Hamill Law Firm
36 Miller Stile Rd.
Quincy, MA 02169
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