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Understaffing in a nursing home can lead to neglect and death

It's tough for workers to keep the elderly safe in a nursing home. Accidents are common, they can be more dire for the elderly -- a simple fall, for instance, can be deadly -- and workers have to be vigilant.

So, what if there are not enough workers? What if the nursing home is understaffed? Reports show that can put patients at serious risk.

It's not just falls. One study examined data spanning a full eight years. Among other things, it found that homes without enough workers on staff saw more:

  • Malnutrition among patients.
  • Severe bedsores.
  • Abnormal weight loss.

Those problems then often led to life-threatening issues like severe dehydration and dangerous infections. Even medical problems that were cured could have been prevented.

The amount of time with medical professionals that the report recommends isn't even that much. It says that nurses aides should be with patients for at least two hours every day. It says that registered nurses should meet with patients for a mere 12 minutes each day.

As minimal as that sounds, most nursing homes (54 percent) do not give aides two hours with each patient, and about a third of nursing homes (31 percent) don't even give patients 12 minutes with a registered nurse.

If your loved one is in a nursing home, you need to know the risks. Having a thin staff isn't just frustrating or annoying. It can be deadly. And it may be far more common than you realized. If your loved one is hurt or passes away due to neglect, be sure you fully understand all of your legal options.

Source: ABC, "Report: Understaffed Nursing Homes Endanger Patients," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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