Staff Shortages In Hospitals & Nursing Homes
The period between 2020 and 2023 led to staff shortages in all industries. However, the most critical industries were hurt the most nationwide, including PA. Hospitals, nursing facilities, and even personal care homes bore much of the brunt.
According to Oracle.com, which tracks healthcare trends, it is now a crisis in 2023. Of course, Oracle tracks this and other human capital problems, but healthcare shortages are crucial.
This crisis is compounded by the fact that although there is a healthcare shortage, it does not relieve any facilities of providing the necessary Duty of Care requirements. The Cornell University of Law spells out the Duty of Care as a Fiduciary Duty, which simply means a necessary duty.
Any patients or residents must receive a standard of care that is within the normal bounds of the law in all states, not just PA. ,However, PA has a large aging population, whichh compounds the staff shortage. According to Statistica, the most increases were seen in the 45 age plus and 65 age plus categories.
Negligence Can Arise in Staff Shortages in Healthcare
It is not intentional usually, but it can lead to decreased quality of care for many reasons:
Covid led to many surgeries being postponed. Deemed non-necessary, and hospitals and other facilities such as rehab centers have seen an influx of patients in a mere three years. Even after opening up, appointment wait times delayed care, which is also a form of Medical Negligence.
- Healthcare workers often quit rather than be exposed to Covid.
Some could bear the tension and fear, plus long hours; others could not. Unfortunately, many did fall ill themselves when exposed to Covid and did not return after recovery.
- Doctors have also aged.
As have nurses and other facility personnel. Some quit or took retirement. Nevertheless, time marched on for all, and incoming physicians, nurses, and other facility workers saw their training and internships interrupted, so are not ready for practice yet.
- Long hours can make judgment poor.
Only so long can the human body cope with a lack of sleep and be mentally aware. Health problems occur in professionals and even hallucinations, according to Healthline.com.
- It costs money and persistence to land a healthcare position.
Costs of loans for doctors and nurses to finish degrees have risen due to higher interest rates. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the costs are in the six figures or higher while wages have not kept up with the demand.
Even a simpler Physician’s Assistant Certification now costs more than before. In addition, simple Nurse Aides face requirements as well with CPR (Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation) and other mandatory requirements being present, and some facilities provide this prior employment while some do not.
- Medical facilities are facing higher costs.
They are faced with cutting back on employee benefits or even laying off staff. The worst shortages can be seen in the Rehab and Nursing Home Facilities, where calls for volunteers occur regularly now in PA, as there is no time for recreational activity management among staff.
These are generally the lowest-paid jobs, so the turnover is excruciatingly high. Nurse Aides must deal with dementia patients, severely ill or handicapped patients, and even angry patients, which can lead to negligence. It is emotionally taxing for the least amount of pay. Nurse Aides can also be called CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) in PA.
Although the pay range can go up to 22.21 per hour, given the stress, double shifts, and certifications that are quite high, especially with the cost of living increasing daily, it becomes a challenge to keep staff.
- Actual bankruptcies of many smaller rural hospitals occurred.
According to the AHA (American Heart Association), the lockdowns caused such financial hardship that smaller rural hospitals simply closed and declared bankruptcy. Large conglomerate facilities then purchased these.
This can be seen in Personal Care Homes especially, but also in smaller rural physician groups. New technologies and screenings with smaller bed spaces led to demolishing many small facilities and physician groups.
Duty of Care-Negligence Cases
However, none of the above reasons will eliminate the Duty of Care necessary to prevent a malpractice or negligence case. It is up to the facility to ensure that this mandate is followed to the letter.
This can often lead a major hospital to transfer a patient or a Nursing Facility or Rehab to do the same. Some doctors, especially after Covid, were prodding insurance companies to cover “in-home” rehab, which alleviated some of the overstaffing burdens.
This occurred mostly in short-term stays, and the documentation is present in the Library of Medicine. Doctors did need to sign off on the need for this; however, insurance companies could take a loss. Doctors who did this were well within the Fiduciary Duty of Care.
Summary- Staff Shortages in Health Facilities
Although it may seem that there is no real winner here in the “after Covid” era, the patient must always come first and care of the utmost quality and diligence.
If a lack of Duty of Care is suspected, all patients or their families should contact an attorney such as Christian J. Hoey, ESQ, who has won millions in Medical Negligence Cases. Any delay in care should be reported to an attorney also.
With a staff on board that consists of actual physicians and advisors of healthcare facilities, no time should be lost when negligence or delayed care becomes apparent. Hailing out of Paoli, PA. Attorney Hoey does cover a wide berth of PA in his practice, and the initial consultations are always free.