There is no question that understaffing in California’s nursing homes is one of the main causes of nursing home abuse and neglect in these care facilities. According to a column by J.G. Preston, who is the press secretary for the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), understaffing in nursing homes can be downright dangerous to the health and well-being of residents.
Preston cites a recent study done by the University of Pittsburgh and published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. This study basically finds a strong correlation between low staffing levels and the receipt of an infection control deficiency citation at nursing homes. Infections are the leading cause of death in nursing homes â€“ about 400,000 deaths a year nationwide.
What is the connection between understaffing and infections? When staffing levels are low, the study found, caregivers are likely to be hurried and have less time to focus on important infection control measures such as washing their hands. It is interesting to note that the study also finds a strong link between infection citations and nursing homes’ for-profit status.