May 2010 Archives

May 27, 2010

Pennsylvania Nursing Homes Rated Dangerous Places to Work


The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent warning letters to 120 western Pennsylvania nursing homes and assisted living facilities about worker injuries in the past year. Nursing homes received a greater number of warnings than any other industry in the area, even mills and foundries, representing out of every five companies that received such letters. As Pennsylvania nursing home negligence attorneys, we are concerned about the high level of worker injuries in nursing homes, because what's bad for workers is generally bad for patients.

Some nursing homes are notorious for low staffing levels, which is bad for patients because it means the staff can be slow to respond to their needs because they are stretched so thin. When employees are overburdened, they can get hurt, like Ruth Heastings, a nurse's aide at Consulate Healthcare of Cheswick. When lifting a patient, she hurt her shoulder and suffered pain so long-lasting that she had to have her whole shoulder surgically reconstructed. She missed five weeks of work and is still on light duty. Heastings said that her colleagues at Consulate and in other nursing homes have been hurt with back injuries, and that understaffing has something to do with it. When nursing home staffers have to miss work because of injuries, that means that their colleagues have to pick up the slack, or that substitutes have to be called in. Both choices raise the chance that patients will be neglected or abused by staff members who are too busy to thoroughly read the patients' care plans, follow procedures carefully, or respond to calls promptly, all of which can result in serious injury to patients. Staff members could also take out the frustration of their too-busy work situation on patients by treating them abusively. Consulate's injury rate was more than four times the national average, but two others--Arden Courts of Jefferson Hills and Latrobe Regional Health and Rehabilitation Center--had injury rates more than ten times the national average. As a Philadelphia injury lawyer i have discovered that under staffing i critical issue within the nursing home industry.

We have written about situations like this from our perspective as Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers many times over the past few months. Studies show that understaffing at nursing homes is a real problem, depriving staff members of the time they need to provide the best care. It can also shorten tempers and increase turnover, both of which can lead to neglect and abuse. As Philadelphia nursing home abuse lawyers, we hope that nursing homes that received warning letters will live up to their obligation to provide safe conditions for patients and workers alike.

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