Nursing home providers who do not properly supervise residents place elderly patients at risk of serious injury, sexual assault, and fatal overdoses. State and federal laws establish the minimum number of hours an operator must provide nursing home residents with services.
However, operators are allowed to determine the staff to resident ratio within the facility.As a result, many facilities are understaffed by operators seeking to reduce operating costs. This is detrimental to patient safety and well-being.
Patient Safety at Risk
71% of all sexual assaults on seniors occur within nursing homes. Insufficient staffing levels make it possible for sexual offenders to prey on residents. Proper staffing reduces the risk of senior sexual assault by providing greater patrols and security for residents.
Violence within nursing homes is also a significant risk for residents. Altercations with other residents can lead to concussions, contusions, broken bones, bruising, and other injuries. Moreover, staff within facilities that are chronically understaffed can “lash out” at patients and deliberately cause them harm.
Substance Abuse on the Rise
One consequence of lazy supervision is increased drug and substance abuse among patient populations. In February of this year, 5 residents between the ages of 33-60 overdosed on heroin within a Chicago-area nursing home. Several factors led to the overdoses. The first was lack of supervision. This made it possible for illegal drugs to be smuggled into the facility and consumed. The second was that residents were not provided with adequate counseling and drug rehabilitation services.
It is not just illegal drugs that are a problem. Nearly 33% of nursing home residents receiving Medicare or Medicaid have an opioid prescription. On average, these patients have five opioid prescriptions each. This creates addictions that must be closely monitored and can lead to the desire to use other opioids including heroin.
A Chicago nursing home abuse attorney can help residents and their families seek compensation for assaults, injuries, drug overdoses, thefts, etc. that are the result of lax supervision. Families should act as soon as it becomes apparent that a facility is not adequately supervising residents. Because lax supervision can have fatal consequences, it may be necessary to remove the resident from the facility. In many cases, this is the best method of protecting the resident from further harm and any retaliatory actions from staff or facilities while the case is being pursued.