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Study: Registered Nurse Staffing Inadequate in Most Nursing Homes

 Posted on August 22, 2018 in Nursing Home Abuse

Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysWhen you place a loved one in a nursing home, you have the right to expect that he or she will be treated with kindness, compassion, and most importantly, appropriate care. After all, the entire point of a nursing home is to provide a level of care that patients cannot easily receive at home. Unfortunately, the “nursing” part of many nursing homes around the country is at frighteningly low levels. In fact, a recent study found that a large majority of nursing homes in the United States fall below recommended federal guidelines in regard to nurse staffing.

Analyzing Staffing Levels

It can be confusing to read reports and studies that address nursing home staff shortages because measuring the care offered by a staff member is quite difficult. For this reason, staffing metrics are often broken down as time per patient per day. For example, if a nursing home has two registered nurses each working a ten-hour shift on a given day, the total nursing time would be 20 hours. If those nurses provided care for 20 residents, the staffing level for that day would be reported as one hour per resident day. If the nurses cared for 40 patients, the level would be 30 minutes per resident day.

In 2001, a federal study estimated that the clinical needs of nursing home patients can usually be met with between 0.55 and 0.75 registered nurse hours per resident day. The same analysis found that residents also need about 4.1 hours of direct care staff time. Direct care staff includes orderlies, nursing assistants, technicians, and other staff members who are not registered nurses.

Troubling Findings

Near the end of 2017, the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) reviewed data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The LTCCC is a New York-based not-for-profit group that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers.

The LTCCC’s findings showed that 70 percent of U.S. nursing homes report registered nurse staffing levels at 30 minutes per resident day or below. In some of the worse cases, such levels were actually zero minutes per resident day. Richard Mollot, the executive director of the LTCCC, guessed that in these facilities, the only registered nurses in the building were assigned to administrative duties instead of patient care.

The same review found direct care staffing levels of four hours per resident day or less in 82 percent of nursing homes. Direct care levels were under three hours in 30 percent of facilities. Mollot also indicated that the numbers his group analyzed included nursing facilities associated with hospitals and those that focus on pediatric patients, both of which would have higher-than-average staffing levels.

Staff Shortages Can Cause Problems

Understaffed nursing homes can be dangerous, as residents often do not receive the care and attention they need. If your loved one has suffered injuries in a nursing home due to low staffing levels, contact an experienced Illinois nursing home neglect attorney for help. Call 312-535-4625 for a free consultation at Schwartz Injury Law today.



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