Nursing Home Negligence and Understaffing Surge in 2020

Lack of nursing home staff leads to wrongful death

2020 was a challenging year in a number of ways. Sadly, seniors living in long term care facilities fared poorly due to corporate mismanagement. Multiple studies have emerged indicating that nursing homes continue to struggle to keep residents safe. Due to coronavirus, dozens of investigations into long-term care facilities’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed that quarantine measures and adequate staffing were overlooked in order to cut costs.

Further questioning has revealed a surprising fact: nursing home deaths caused by neglect also surged in 2020, even if patients did not contract COVID-19. The root cause of all these problems is a lack of staff in skilled nursing facilities. When corporations deliberately cut staff to make money, mistakes are inevitable and oftentimes lethal.

Families from across the country are stepping forward to share their stories about loved ones who were thriving and suddenly declined to the point of passing away over a matter of weeks. In the majority of cases, staffing levels were to blame, with multiple residents appearing to have received no care at all for long stretches of time.

Our nursing home attorneys understand more than anyone; appropriate staff is required in order to keep nursing home residents safe. If your loved one was injured or killed inside a facility, contact us now for a free case consultation.

Family Stories on Lack of Staff in Long Term Care Facilities

One such case is from the family of Donald Wallace, a 75-year-old who had been deemed healthy early in 2020. Staff appeared to have completely ceased taking care of him in order to address patients affected by the pandemic, and as a result, in less than a month Mr. Wallace dropped to just 98 pounds. An untreated urinary tract infection led him to suffer from septic shock, complicated by E. coli that developed as a result of sitting in his own feces. That Wallace needed assistance with meals was well known, and yet he suffered from aspiration pneumonia—when food is inhaled into the lungs, causing infection—likely because he was unsupervised when eating.

Donald Wallace’s case is not unique in 2020; the rate of death from non-COVID-related negligence surged by nearly 20% this year as already understaffed nursing homes suffered additional losses with quarantine procedures, more intense care for pandemic patients, and some staff calling in sick themselves. Dawn Best of Long Island saw her mother impacted as a result of this shift in care; the Gurwin Jewish Nursing Home where her mother lived had previously been providing exceptional service, from tai chi to visits with ponies.

However, in just three weeks, Best’s mother went from happy and healthy to severely dehydrated, as staff had no time to ensure that she was drinking anything. Dehydration was listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.

Barbara Leak-Watkins has expressed disdain and shock at the treatment her father, Alex Leak, received before he was found motionless on the floor of Brookdale Northwest in Greensboro, North Carolina. An Army veteran so healthy that his doctor had said just weeks before that he’d “outlive all of [them],” Leak had been obsessed with maintaining adequate fluid intake as a result of his military training. It came as a shock to his family, then, that Leak had gone so long without water at his long-term care facility that he had developed lactic acidosis—a condition resulting from going without water for so long that the body accumulates more potassium than the kidneys can process, causing the kidneys to shut down.

A Call to Congress: Demand Adequate Nursing Home Staff Levels and Save Our Seniors!

Stories like these continue to be common among nursing home deaths in 2020, indicating that the coronavirus pandemic affects more than those who directly contract the virus. The serious and even fatal effects of understaffing and inability to spend time with each individual resident are becoming clear; as a result, Consumer Voice has issued a call to Congress to pass legislation mandating a greater number of staff in nursing homes, as well as requiring increased oversight at facilities. Whether this call to action will be heeded by Congress remains to be seen, and until then, it is critical that families and friends continue to reach out to their loved ones at long-term care facilities to ensure that their treatment has not been impacted by staffing levels and other concerns.

Has Your Family Been Victimized by Nursing Home Negligence?

If you have a family member that was harmed inside an assisted living or nursing home, contact us now for a free case consultation. This is all that we do. The compassionate and experienced attorneys are Senior Justice Law Firm narrowly focus on cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect. We are here to guide you on your journey to justice. Live chat or call us now to begin the conversation: 888-375-9998.

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