Understaffing in nursing homes is a major risk factor for nursing home neglect and preventable adverse outcomes in nursing home patients. It is also, unfortunately, widespread. New York law requires that each day, there must be enough nursing care staff members at work so that each patient can receive 3.5 hours of direct care. Each patient must receive at least 2.2 hours of care per day from certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and at least 1.1 hours of care from a licensed nurse; the remaining 0.2 hours can be from either a nurse or a CNA. Nursing homes can be subject to fines of $2,000 per day for each day they operate without enough nursing care staffers to provide at least the minimum legally required hours of care for each resident. If your family member suffered harm because of neglect or a nursing error resulting from understaffing, contact a New York nursing home lawyer.
Dramatis Personae: The Nursing Care Staff
Every nursing home employs staff members of various job titles who provide direct care to residents. These are the nursing care staff members and the duties for which they are responsible:
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide most of the assistance with tasks of daily living. They help residents eat their meals, get out of bed, change their clothes, bathe, and use the toilet. They also take vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have passed the National Council Licensure Examination. They also sometimes perform the care tasks that CNAs perform, but unlike CNAs, LPNs have the authority to dispense and administer medication. The staff member who brings the cart full of pills to each patient each day is an LPN. LPNs also insert, remove, and replace catheters.
Registered nurses (RNs) can administer blood transfusions and intravenous medication in addition to performing the duties that LPNs perform. They also have the authority to set nursing treatment plans for residents.
When is Understaffing Legally Acceptable?
Demand for nursing care exceeds supply, and fining every nursing home for every day that it operates with fewer nursing staff members than it needs would not make it easier for nursing homes to hire more nurses and CNAs. Under certain circumstances, nursing homes are exempt from understaffing fines. These exemptions apply when the area is under a declared federal or state emergency due to extreme weather or some other disaster. They also apply when current data show that the area where the nursing home is located is experiencing a labor shortage in the nursing care profession. Likewise, if the understaffing is due to a union dispute, the nursing home is not subject to fines while the dispute is pending.
Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC About Understaffed Nursing Home Cases
A nursing home lawyer can help you if the nursing home where your family member resides is chronically understaffed. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC in Brooklyn, New York, or call (212)671-1110 to discuss your case.