Virginia nursing homes have a duty of care to their residents. Breaching that duty—often through negligence due to understaffing—results in serious and even fatal health problems. How does a lack of adequate nursing home staff lead to fatalities?

According to The Virginian-Pilot, there are many recent examples in Hampton Roads nursing homes.

Bedsores and infections

One frequent, preventable and potentially fatal result of understaffing is bedsores. There has been case after case in area nursing homes involving residents with mobility issues who developed these deep wounds and infections that family members say were the direct result of staff neglect. Other preventable infections that reportedly led to several local fatalities include surgery site infections and urinary tract infections.

Medication errors

When patients come to nursing homes to recover from health conditions or medical procedures, they often require medications. In fact, regular medication is a way of life for most people in nursing homes. Understaffing often affects the administration of life-saving drugs, and many court cases in the area report medication errors and lapses in administration of medication that, family members claim, led to residents’ deaths.

Falls

Many family members of deceased residents reported preventable falls that caused broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. For example, in one case, a staff member attempted to lift a patient without a co-worker’s assistance and broke the resident’s shoulder. In another, a resident with dementia wandered past an unattended reception desk and fell outside, sustaining head trauma and destroying her knee. In both of these cases, the initial injuries triggered events that led to further harm and eventually, death.

Family members who have lost a loved one due to nursing home neglect can file complaints with state licensing officials. Many choose to also file a lawsuit to seek justice on behalf of their loved ones.