Wellington Nursing Home Neglect, Abuse Could be Exacerbated by Nursing Shortage

March 15, 2012 by Dean H. Freeman

A shortage of nurses throughout the state has led to concerns of nursing home abuse in Wellington and elsewhere.
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Our Wellington nursing home abuse attorneys are troubled by the market outlook that was recently released through the Florida Center for Nursing. Essentially, the prediction is that the state is going to be short about 15,000 nurses over the next year and a startling 56,000 in 2025.

What this means for you and I is that we can expect a diminished quality of care. Fewer nurses is going to mean understaffed hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. There are also likely to be fewer facilities that can afford to stay open, meaning there will be fewer options for the aging.

This couldn't come at a worse time for baby boomers, a huge generation that is beginning to flood nursing homes and assisted care facilities. Even if the shortage could be addressed with better wages for nurses, that is a cost that is ultimately going to be passed to patients. Many people struggle to afford decent geriatric care as it is.

Part of the problem is that nurses in Florida tend to make less than they would elsewhere in the country. Here, registered nurses can expect to make about $30 an hour - which equals out to almost $100 less a week than the national average nursing salary.

Another problem, according to the National Nurses Organizing Committee, is the overburdening of nurses with low nurse-to-patient ratios. What that means is there are fewer nurses for every patient. Not only is this bad for patients, because it means the quality of care is lessened, nurses don't like it either. High workloads quickly become a stress factor that leads to higher turn-over rates. So then the shortage becomes a vicious cycle, because nurses in Florida relocate to better-paying jobs where they'll be responsible for fewer patients.

Ross Eisenbrey, who works with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, was quoted as saying that is a huge issue for nurses, and while they care about patients, the workload issue is a deal-breaker for many.

As our Wellington nursing home abuse attorneys are well aware, staff shortages are an opportunity not only for neglect but also outright abuse. Overworked nurses can certainly be a factor, but a lack of oversight contributes as well.

Despite these projected shortages, about 11 percent of registered nurses in the state aren't working in the field in which they have their degree. A lot of that has to do with the ratios and pay scale discussed earlier.

California is one state that could be held up as a model for this snowballing problem. It became the first of 14 states to set up a mandated nurse-to-patient ratio. That was in 2004. Since then, more than 100,000 nurses in California went back to bedside care.

If you or a loved one have suffered from nursing home abuse in Wellington or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez for legal assistance. 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Florida is facing another nursing shortage, By Barbara Peters Smith, Sarasota Herald Tribune

More Blog Entries:
Choosing the right nursing home in Fort Lauderdale a critical step in avoiding neglect and abuse, March 31, 2011, Wellington Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog