IDPH has cited and fined Warren Barr North Shore nursing home in Highland Park after a resident sustained a head injury in a fall that was caused by short-staffing of the nursing home.
People who reside in nursing homes need help. That’s why they are there. Federal regulations require the nursing home to have staff on hand necessary to meet the care needs on a 24/7 basis. When nursing homes don’t have enough staff on hand, there are all sorts on negative consequences which ultimately come back on the residents:
- Residents don’t get turned and repositioned or have timely incontinence care provided, which can lead to the development of bed sores;
- Residents who need supervision at meal times may not get it, which can lead to choking accidents;
- Aides may not have time to wait for the help of another aide to use a mechanical lift to transfer a resident which can cause a Hoyer lift accident;
- Residents may not get bathed or showered as they should, which is a form of nursing home abuse — and is one of the things that IDPH cited the nursing home here for. Some residents had gone 10 days without being bathed because there was not enough help to get it done.
One of the most immediate risks brought on by understaffing is the risk of nursing home falls. Essentially what happens is the is that residents who need assistance with walking or transfers will get tired of waiting, will decide that they don’t wish to soil themselves, and will get up without the assistance the need — and a fall will result.
That is exactly what happened in this particular situation. The resident at issue was on a wing which should have been staffed by 4 aides, but one – just one – was on duty. The resident was at high risk for falls, and was looking for some assistance with lower back pain. He activated his call light, waited an hour, and then walked to the nurse’s station to get some help. Unfortunately, he did not get any help there either, and as he stood there, his legs gave out and he fell to the ground, suffering a fractured wrist. He was found crawling down the hallway by staff and was sent out to the hospital.
This is exactly the kind of fall which is all too predictable when the nursing home is understaffed. And even if this kind of of short-staffing were a one-off kind of event, having that kind of understaffing erodes the effectiveness of call lights as a fall prevention measure because it trains the residents that even if they activate their call light, no one is coming to help them.
Sadly, this kind of short-staffing was not a one-off kind of event because the citation issued by IDPH contains an admission by the Director of Nursing that they were not meeting their staffing target levels. Further the resident council minutes going back three months before the fall all request additional aides. The short-staffing at this facility has led to residents not having their basic needs for human dignity being met as some are going more than a week without being bathed or showered due to the lack of available help.
This happens to be an extreme example, but is a clearly a situation where the nursing home business model is causing the residents at this facility to not get the care they need and deserve. One of our core beliefs is that nursing homes are built to fail due to the business model they follow and that unnecessary accidental injuries and wrongful deaths of nursing home residents are the inevitable result. Order our FREE report, Built to Fail, to learn more about why. Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to help you understand what happened, why, and what your rights are. Contact us to get the help you need.
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