There are millions of seniors living in nursing homes across our nation—requiring assistance to get dressed, eat, walk, go to the bathroom, and take care of themselves. It is the job of the health care workers in nursing homes to provide their residents with quality care and to keep their residents safe. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect continues to be recognized as a problem in many nursing homes—putting patients at risk for suffering serious injuries or death.
One type of nursing home neglect is the failure to answer patients’ call lights or alarms. If you have ever set foot into a nursing home, it is hard to miss hearing the different bells and alarms that go off—alerting nursing home workers to a patient’s needs or a resident’s condition. Sadly, nursing home staff members often ignore these alarms because they are overworked and short staffed.
Seriousness of Nursing Home Alarms
When a patient’s alarm sounds or light flashes, it alerts nursing home care workers that the patient needs some sort of help. Sometimes a patient might need help getting up to go to the bathroom and other times the bell may sound because a patient fell and hurt himself. When nursing home workers ignore these alarms, patients are neglected and put in jeopardy.
For example, alarms are typically placed on beds and chairs of residents who are more likely to fall. If the alarm goes off, it notifies the staff that a patient who is at risk of falling has gotten up. Nursing home workers need to act fast and respond to the situation before a patient falls and suffers a serious injury. Unfortunately, staff at nursing homes frequently ignore these alarms due to “alarm fatigue.”
What Is Alarm Fatigue?
When nursing home workers work around various alarm sounds on a daily basis, they have the tendency to shut these sounds off. Additionally, when they hear these alarms frequently, they may not feel all of these alarms are very important and may ignore them altogether or delay answering them.
According to a Boston Globe article, medical workers have become desensitized to these alarms to the point that they fail to respond in a timely manner. When they delay responding or fail to respond at all, patients can suffer injuries and even death due to delayed response.
If you or a loved one suffered as a result of nursing home neglect and a staff delay in responding to an alarm, you can find many answers to your questions in our free book, The Florida Nursing Home Abuse Handbook.