Number of Wisconsin Nursing Home Complaints Nears All-Time High
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on September 23, 2022 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Nursing homes across the country came under fire during the pandemic, drawing attention to all that is broken in long-term care. This year, the number of complaints in Wisconsin is set to exceed those filed last year.
What is the reason for these complaints and why is there such a backlog in the system?
PKSD shares some of the latest information about Wisconsin nursing home facilities and why there continues to be an increasing number of complaints.
The Pandemic Magnified America’s Broken Nursing Home System
According to federal records, Wisconsin nursing homes were among the worst for having staffing shortage issues throughout the pandemic. Those shortages continue today. The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal writes that just this month, approximately two in every five Wisconsin nursing home facilities reported a shortage of nurses. These numbers were not this bad at the peak of the pandemic and reflect a worsening situation.
Understaffing Increases the Likelihood of Care Issues and Neglect
When long-term care facilities are understaffed, the residents suffer. A lack of nurses and other caregivers often results in residents receiving substandard care, which can result in:
- Weight loss
- Medication errors
- And more
Since understaffing is still an issue, many complaints are about residents who are not receiving proper care.
According to Sam Brooks, public policy director at The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, “…when those (complaints) aren’t being investigated in a timely fashion, … it’s going to result in patients being harmed.”
State Inspectors Are Too Understaffed to Handle the Backlog of Complaints
Prior to the start of this year, Wisconsin already had a backlog of nursing home complaints. State inspectors are also understaffed, however. They are still struggling to catch up from the onslaught of complaints received during the pandemic.
Just last year, Wisconsin received about 165 complaints per month. At the year’s end, there were approximately 1,984 nursing home complaints. This year, the number of complaints is estimated to exceed the totals from last year. At the state level, however, there are too few inspectors to investigate every complaint. Of the 64 positions assigned to do the nursing home inspections, eight are still vacant. A further thirteen inspectors, which is about a fourth of the 56 currently employed by the state, are still in training and not yet approved to do inspections.
Are Complaints Being Properly Addressed and Categorized?
The strained state inspection system has neither the staff nor resources to adequately address the number of complaints they receive. As of September 2 of this year, the state had missed federally mandated deadlines for 161 nursing home complaints. However, according to state workers, the outstanding complaints had been assessed as incidents that did not place residents at risk of significant harm.
That said, another issue stems from state workers being the ones tasked with determining how serious a complaint may be. Unfortunately, when some of these “minor” complaints are later investigated, inspectors sometimes find a more serious situation.
Additional issues the state inspection system faces:
- Adhering to federally mandated guidelines for addressing complaints
- Retaining inspectors
- Training new inspectors fast enough to meet ongoing needs
Do You Suspect Neglect at a Loved One’s Nursing Home? Call Today
PKSD is deeply dedicated to representing injured victims of nursing home neglect and abuse. Our Wisconsin-area nursing home attorneys have extensive experience advocating for these vulnerable victims and a history of proven results. Our firm has recovered millions on behalf of injured nursing home residents.
Contact our firm today, or anytime, night or day. We always have staff available to take your call. Even if you are unsure if you have a valid claim, we are prepared to discuss your situation. There is no cost for your initial case review. If you choose to hire our firm, there is also nothing to pay us up front or while we manage your case. We only get paid if we get you results.
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