As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s easy for essential healthcare workers to become overwhelmed and buckle under the pressure. Who can blame them? They are dealing with a completely unprecedented crisis. No amount of training could have prepared them for this.
In nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, healthcare staff members are stretched to their limits. Many are understaffed as their nurses also take sick, and they don’t have the supplies or manpower to tend to everyone’s needs.
Understaffing in nursing homes leaves patients vulnerable to disease, injury, and even death. If your loved one was injured or has passed away due to nursing home neglect, you could file a malpractice claim against the nursing home.
Different Nurses for Different Needs
In a typical long-term care facility, there are typically three types of nurses caring for patients:
- Registered Nurses (RN)
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
- Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA)
Occasionally, there will also be a Nurse Practitioner on staff (NP). Each nurse has a different job description and can perform different duties based on their title. Not every nurse who works at a nursing home is qualified to provide all treatment to patients.
Even if a nursing home is short staffed and does not have the proper staff on hand, unqualified staff members may not provide physical treatment. The RN has the most experience and training and will typically oversee LPNs and CNAs. If an RN isn’t present, LPNs and CNAs may not perform the duties of an RN, as they are not qualified to do so.
Seniors with debilitating medical conditions need a highly trained set of hands. Allowing a nurse without the proper training to give them a specialized treatment is negligence, and their actions could injure the patient.
Understaffed Nursing Homes Are Negligent
Did you know that being understaffed also counts as negligence? Typically we think of nursing home abuse and neglect as physically hurting residents, or providing the wrong amount of medication. But it goes far beyond that.
Nursing homes are responsible for hiring enough qualified staff members to care for residents around the clock. Without trained staff, they can’t provide your loved one with the care they need.
Failure to have such staff present is negligence and also grounds for a lawsuit.
Nursing home neglect can lead to a variety of injuries including bed sores, broken bones, and so much more. The situation only becomes riskier when an unqualified worker is handling your loved one.
The Indiana State Department of Health lays out specific guidelines on its website on the care and keeping of seniors in nursing homes. Those rights include the right “to freedom from abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” among other things. These rules are in place to protect the rights of senior citizens.
If you suspect the nursing home has violated your loved one’s rights, or if they are seriously injured by a lack of qualified nursing staff, it’s time to consult with an Indiana personal injury attorney.
What to Do if You Suspect Neglect or Abuse
Here are the steps you should take if you suspect your loved one suffers from nursing home neglect.
Start by documenting the incident or incidents. Write down all signs that you believe could indicate the nursing home staff is neglecting your loved one. Take pictures of any physical signs that you deem to be a red flag, such as bedsores, bruises, or other unexplained injuries. You may be unable to physically visit right now due to COVID-19 restrictions, but make frequent phone calls and ask your loved one about their situation. Their testimony will help you decide how to proceed. After nursing home restrictions are lifted, you should make frequent visits to see your loved one in person to make sure they are all right.
Next, you should bring up to the nursing home’s facility managers. Since they handle many operations, they may be unaware that their staff members are neglecting residents. Bring it to their attention and see if they are able to handle it. If the neglect continues, you may need to go above their heads.
Legal action should be your next step. Bring your evidence to an Indiana personal injury attorney and show them everything you have collected that may indicate your loved one is being neglected in their long-term care facility. Your lawyer will provide you with proper counsel on how to proceed. You and your loved one may be entitled to damages for the mistakes of the nursing home.
Help from an Indiana Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
Nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents. When you make the difficult decision to put a loved on in a long-term care facility, you deserve to feel safe in knowing they are being properly cared for.
At Hensley Legal Group, we are here to offer you assistance in your time of need. Were you injured when your nursing home didn’t hire enough staff to care for you? Did a staff member injure you during treatment they weren’t qualified to give? We can provide you with effect legal counsel and let you know all about your options. Call, text, or chat with us online for a free conversation about your malpractice claim.