Nursing Homes Understaffed, Unprepared During COVID-19 Outbreak

Coronavirus causes nursing home employee shortage

The coronavirus challenges facing the skilled nursing facility industry are unprecedented. Shockingly, a recent McKnight’s survey confirms that most nursing homes are short staffed and lacking personal protective equipment during this crucial time period in battling the COVID-19 outbreak.

As discussed in prior posts, insufficient infection control measures may be grounds for a coronavirus lawsuit against the nursing home.

Our nursing home abuse attorneys analyze the recent data pertaining to American nursing homes’ readiness to confront an infectious disease outbreak, like COVID-19.

When a Facility is Understaffed, Injury and Wrongful Death are More Likely

Throughout countless industry studies, it has become clear that there is a direct correlation between staff numbers and adverse events in nursing homes. When there are an appropriate number of nurses, aides and staff in a facility, the residents get the care they deserve. This is especially true when there is a crisis, like a natural disaster or an infection outbreak.

However, according to this recent survey of American nursing homes, almost 50% of facilities reported a lack of staff. Most of these nursing homes attribute the understaffing to staff calling in sick to avoid COVID-19. We are familiar with the generally accepted principle that understaffed nursing homes maim and kill residents.

This is particularly dangerous in nursing homes with high acuity residents. Dementia patients cannot be trusted to sit still and not cause themselves harm. A lack of nurses in the facility due to coronavirus will undoubtedly lead to unreported injuries, hip fractures, pressure sores and wrongful death.

A Lack of Masks and Gloves Spreads Coronavirus through a Nursing Home like Wildfire

According to the self reporting nursing home study, more than 77% of nursing homes lacked enough personal protective equipment, masks and gloves needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Frighteningly, more than half of the nursing homes that participated in the study admitted to fabricating homemade masks and gloves, or reusing old personal protective equipment.

This is outrageous as the CDC has clearly called for healthcare workers to utilize masks, gloves and protective gowns when treating a suspected corona virus patient.

Who is Responsible for Nursing Home Understaffing and Lack of Supplies during the COVID-19 Quarantine?

Nursing home staff calling in sick due to COVID-19 fears

Ultimately, it is the job of the corporate parent company that profits off of these nursing homes to determine budgetary items like staffing and medical equipment. Additionally, this parent company is usually tasked with creating policies and procedures, such as those used to control infectious disease outbreak.

When a foreseeable event, like an infectious disease outbreak, occurs, it will be the nursing home’s corporate owner that will have to answer these tough questions. Where is the staff to care for the quarantined residents? Why is there a shortage of medical equipment to keep both residents and staff safe from COVID-19? What procedures were created by corporate in the event of a facility-wide infection outbreak? Were those policies actually followed?

Undoubtedly, staffing, budgeting, corporate planning and equipment allocation will be analyzed in detail. We can only hope that nursing home corporations have adequately prepared for this kind of pandemic. If not, the captive residents of their facilities will needlessly suffer due to poor planning.

A link to the survey can be found here.

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