A previous blog discussed the all too common and tragic problem of nursing home abuse and neglect. In this blog, your Denver Personal Injury Attorney will explore what constitutes nursing home negligence, and what to do about it.
Negligence in its most basic form is the failure to meet an applicable standard of care. In the nursing home situation, negligence can manifest as staff failing to: assist elderly patients with their medical care (such as helping them take their medication); assist patients with eating if they need help; help patients to the bathroom enough (resulting in increased use of the bedpan and adult bladder protection which can often lead to urinary tract infections); move patients out of their beds and rooms (by leaving them restrained or depriving them of mobility through decreased access to wheelchairs, causing muscle atrophy and bed sores).
As your Denver Personal Injury Attorney knows, negligence can also occur as insufficient training of nursing home staff. Nursing aides are the lowest paid and least trained of all nursing staff members, yet they spend the most direct one-on-one time with patients. Nursing homes can be held liable for negligent hiring if they do not properly vet an applicant to see if he or she had proper training. Rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to Colorado's Nurse Aide Practice Act ensure that Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) must pass certification criteria in order to work in nursing facilities. Certification must be acquired through examination (for which a person must meet eligibility requirements), or endorsement (for which a person must meet requirements in the application).
Registered Nurses (RNs) were found to have six areas in which they were more likely to be negligent: (1) failure to follow applicable standards of care; (2) failure to use equipment in a responsible manner; (3) failure to adequately assess and monitor the patient; (4) failure to communicate patient information to the doctor or next nurse on shift; (5) failure to document patient information and nursing assessment, diagnosis and intervention; and (6) failure to act as patient advocate.
Just as important as sufficient training is sufficient staffing. Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney points to a federal study released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2000 and 2002 that showed a direct link between staffing levels and quality of care in nursing homes. According to the study, the threshold staffing levels below which the quality of care declines are:
1. Registered Nurses (RNs): 45 minutes per day per resident
2. RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs): must spend at least 1.3 hours per
resident per day
3. Nurses Aides (CNAs): must spend at least 2.8 hours per resident per day
The above requirements for training and staffing represent the minimum standards with which a nursing home must comply in order to avoid liability. Because nursing home residents are often unable to speak up for themselves, they need others to advocate for them. If you know someone who may be suffering from nursing home negligence, let your Denver Personal Injury Attorney Jordan Levine advocate for them today. Call Levine Law for your free consultation at (303) 333-8000.