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1 Out Of 3 Nursing Homes In Alabama Has A Staffing Shortage

Mobile, Alabama nursing home neglect lawyers explain why that matters

An estimated 1 out of 3 nursing homes in Alabama has a shortage of staff members, according to a recent study conducted by AARP. And the problem only seems to be getting worse due to the pandemic, a cause of concern for families worried about injuries or illnesses sustained by loved ones due to nursing home neglect.

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“About 37 percent of Alabama’s nursing homes are self-reporting staff shortages. So, that’s a very concerning issue for us because it relates directly to the quality of patient care that’s happening and the safety of the patients in those facilities. That means few staff taking care of more patients and that’s not a safe situation for anyone,” said Jamie Harding of AARP in an interview with WBRC News.

In addition, officials interviewed by WBRC News this past December noted that “Analysts said this is the worst (nursing home) staffing shortage (in Alabama) since the government started keeping such records related to COVID-19 back in May” of 2020.

Why are nursing homes understaffed?

Nursing homes in Alabama have long had a problem recruiting and hiring enough workers, experts told WBRC News. The ongoing pandemic has simply made the staffing shortage problem at nursing homes worse.

Part of the problem has to do with background check requirements for nursing home employees in Alabama, according to WBRC News. Alabama Nursing Home Association officials told WBRC News that applicants must pass a criminal background check. Applicants also cannot have a record of neglecting or abusing an elderly or disabled person.

In addition, nursing home job applicants must pass a drug screening test. All of these “requirements make for a shallow applicant pool,” an official from the Alabama Nursing Home Association told WBRC News.

Why should families be concerned?

Understaffing at nursing homes often results in worse outcomes for residents, AARP reported. This is especially true if a nursing home does not have enough nurses. And that has become a common problem due to the high demand for nurses in healthcare facilities.

When fewer people work at nursing homes, the death rate among patients often increases. In addition, nursing homes with fewer staff members have reported higher COVID-19 case rates, according to a medical study conducted last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

“Nursing homes with higher staffing levels, including those with higher CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) 5-star quality ratings for staffing are associated with fewer cases or deaths in the facility,” researchers noted in last year’s KFF study.

“Even on (a nursing home’s) best day, if you’re fully staffed, things can still go wrong,” Lori Porter, co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants, said in an interview with AARP. “But things will definitely go wrong if you’re staffed at a third of what you need.”

How can a nursing home lawyer help?

You might think you don’t need a lawyer if a loved one becomes sick or injured in an Alabama nursing home. Alabama’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman office can investigate your allegation of nursing home neglect or abuse.

But don’t simply assume they will take care of everything. Even if the state’s Ombudsman office determines that your loved one’s nursing home acted in a reckless or negligent manner, their investigation only focuses on whether wrongdoing occurred. Their investigation does not decide if you deserve financial compensation for your loved one’s damages. And such expenses, particularly medical bills, can add up fast.

That's why you need an experienced Alabama nursing home neglect attorney on your side. The dedicated legal team at Braswell Murphy, LLC in Mobile can help you every step of the way. We know how to investigate allegations of nursing home neglect or abuse, especially when they involve nursing home staffing shortages. Our ability to skillfully handle such cases comes from years of experience helping families demand the justice they deserve.

Learn more about your legal rights. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Alabama nursing home neglect lawyer who puts your family’s best interests first.

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