How understaffing at nursing homes leads to medical neglect and a huge $19 million verdict against a nursing home in Queens, New York

Many know that nursing homes are woefully understaffed with staff-to-resident ratios that do not meet the needs of the residents.  How does the understaffing lead to pressure sores in a nursing home?  There is a direct correlation between understaffing of a nursing home and a high incidence of pressure sores among the residents.

           How does understaffing at nursing home lead to pressure sores among the residents?

In December, 2009, the family of a nursing home resident recovered a $19 million verdict against the Brooklyn-Queens Nursing Home for 20 pressures sores that developed over the course of nine months.  The nursing home's director of nursing testified that during the plaintiff's stay, she was working without an assistant director and performing the work of four to five full-time staff members, including admisssion personnel, end-care plan reviewer, wound care nurse and Medicare data person.

As a result of the understaffing of the nursing home, out of 233 total nursing notes only 43 mentioned turning and positioning and of those, 33 documented turning and positioning every 3 or 4 hours, not the standard practice of turning and positioning every two hours.

Residents were supposed to be given skin checks every nursing shift.  The documentation revealed that the nursing staff did not inspect the plaintiff's skin, as required by the nursing home protocol, and often neglected the plaintiff for several hours at a time.

                      This is what happens when you neglect a resident at a nursing home

On December 17, 2009, the jury in Brooklyn Supreme Court returned a verdict for $3.75 million for the plaintiff's pain and suffering and $15 million for punitive damages against the nursing home for altering the nursing home records.  Little foot note: the plaintiff only recovered $750,000 of the verdict as a result of a pre-trial high/low agreement between the attorneys.  This case was the first time in New York history that punitive damages were included in a verdict against a nursing home.

                                                  The lesson learned for the day

The lesson from this case is the failure of the Brooklyn-Queens Nursing Home to adequately staff its facility led to more than 20 pressure sores in a resident suffering from Alzheimer's who was unable to care for himself.  If you are researching nursing homes for a family member, the first thing you want to find out is the staff-to-resident ratio and whether the staff consists of registered nurses or licensed practical nurses or certified nurses aides.  Many nursing homes save money by using less-skilled staff, such as CNA's, in order to reduce costs and maximize profits.

                                               What to do if you want more information

If you want more information about staff-to-resident ratios at nursing homes, you can get free information in my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims.  Just ask, and I will get the book to you at no charge.  If you have any questions, I welcome your phone call at 866-889-6882, my toll-free cell phone.