Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Raise Concerns About Patient Care

An elderly nursing home resident sits alone in a wheelchair

Media investigation raises questions about resident care.

A deep investigation into the state of Western Pennsylvania's nursing homes has raised concern about the quality of care provided as well as the crushing staff shortage that is hampering facilities here and across the United States.

Journalists revealed that the region has a shortage of adequate nursing homes and care facilities to meet current needs - and even less prepared to serve the up-and-coming larger generation. Baby Boomers will need geriatric services soon enough.

Under the law, nursing homes are required to provide residents with proper health care, comfort, and dignity. However, studies show a link between understaffing and higher rates of nursing home abuse and neglect. To protect yourself and elderly loved ones, here is what you need to know about staffing in Western Pennsylvania nursing homes.

Western Pennsylvania nursing home statistics

The Tribune-Review is calling the state of America's nursing homes a "crisis poised to worsen." The news organization investigated 168 nursing homes in a 17-county region of Western Pennsylvania. They reviewed documents from public and private sources and interviewed the people involved. The following are investigation highlights:

  • Over half (53 percent) of Western Pennsylvania's nursing homes were rated as "below average" or "much below overage" in reports by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • There are 21 nursing homes in the region on a federal list of facilities flagged for abuse or neglect.
  • A review of national records shows Pennsylvania has had more abuse-related federal enforcement actions for safety deficiency than all but 6 states.
  • No Pennsylvania nursing home licenses have been revoked in the last three years despite some of the facilities carrying "much below average" or "below average" ratings for extended periods.

Understaffing is related to nursing home neglect

Understaffing is a major contributing factor in reports of abuse and neglect in Western Pennsylvania nursing homes. The problem is also reducing options: 19 local nursing homes have closed since 2021 due to a lack of staff. Meanwhile, about 98% of facilities said they had some unfilled positions.

Under these circumstances, families with elderly loved ones in nursing homes need to understand the signs that something is wrong. The types of abuse and neglect most common when staffing levels are low include:

  • The staff is unavailable. Pay attention to the time it takes for staff to respond to resident needs or calls for assistance.
  • Negligence of basic needs. Like proper hygiene, timely meals, and assistance with mobility, for example.
  • Medical errors. High turnover and workers being stretched thin create an environment of risk.
  • Falls and unexplained injuries. A pattern of such incidents may suggest a systemic issue related to proper staffing levels.

How to reduce the risk of nursing home neglect and abuse

If a loved one residing in a nursing home displays any of these signs, it is essential to communicate concerns with the facility's management and, if necessary, report the situation to appropriate authorities to ensure the well-being of the residents. Regular communication with the nursing home staff and staying vigilant for signs of neglect or abuse can contribute to maintaining a safe and supportive environment for residents.

The dedicated legal team at Hal Waldman & Associates in Pittsburgh is ready to support you and your loved one. Speaking with a nursing home neglect attorney is another step you can take to help prevent further harm. Protect your family and put an experienced law firm on your side. Contact us today.

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