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Study Shows That 75% of Nursing Homes Are Chronically Understaffed

Close up of doctor's stethoscope

Many nursing home residents and their families have long held the suspicion that nursing homes are understaffed. A study has shown that 75% of skilled nursing facilities are almost never in compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) expectations for staffing, given their residents' particular needs. Data also found that most facilities had fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they reported to the government.

While CMS does not require a minimum resident-to-staff ratio, they do require facilities to have a registered nurse on site for 8 hours per day, and a licensed nurse at all times. They are also required to have sufficient staff to meet the needs of each resident. Prior to Medicare's overhaul of their rating system, facilities' staffing was self-reported and unverified, making it possible for nursing homes to game the system. Facilities are now required to publish daily payroll records, which have shown that there are significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing levels, with large shortfalls on weekends. On the worst-staffed days at an average facility, staff cared for twice as many residents as they did when the staffing was at its fullest. CMS has given facilities that are chronically understaffed lower ratings in order to address the fluctuations in staffing.

The erratic staffing levels leave major gaps in care for residents, whose care needs don't change from a weekday to a weekend. With over 1.4 million people being cared for in skilled nursing facilities, and mass understaffing, serious and often avoidable injuries and hospitalizations are commonplace. Calls from residents go unanswered by nurses and aides, patients don't get the help they need to go to the bathroom or eat, and repositioning often falls to the wayside leading to serious pressure ulcers. In the worst cases, patients are catastrophically injured or die from this neglect and understaffing.

If you or a loved one has been hurt at the hands of a nursing home in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Georgia, call the attorneys at Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP. Nursing home residents are vulnerable and deserve proper care. We stand up for the victims of nursing home neglect and abuse, and there is no cost to speak to someone about your case.

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