Analysis of Federal Data Shows Nursing Homes Are Often Understaffed

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on July 9, 2018 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

patient in dark hallwayMost nursing homes have been understaffed for years but administrators have been lying to the government about it, according to Kaiser Health News’ recent analysis of Medicare payroll records.

The data reveals significant changes in the number of staff members at nursing homes on a day-to-day basis. There were particularly large shortages of staff members on weekends. On at least one day during the last three months of 2017, 25 percent of facilities reported having no registered nurses on duty.

On days when the average facility had the fewest staff members, the nurses and caretaking staff members who were on duty cared for twice as many residents as they did when staffing levels were at their highest.

Understaffing at nursing homes is a serious problem that often leads to the abuse or neglect of residents. If your loved one was abused because of understaffing, our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers may be able to pursue compensation. Schedule a free legal consultation today.

Problems with Five-Star Rating System

The data from the payroll records shows that the government’s five-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated the number of on-duty staff members. In addition, the rating system rarely identified when facilities were understaffed.

Until recently, Medicare used unverified reports from each facility to rate staffing levels, as part of the five-star rating system. However, this allowed administrators to find ways to game the system and lie or overreport staffing levels.

Under the old system, nursing homes simply needed to report staffing levels on the two weeks before an inspection. However, administrators could simply anticipate an inspection and increase staffing levels beforehand.

Medicare recently changed its method for rating staffing levels. Medicare began gathering and publishing daily payroll records, a requirement from the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, this new method of determining staffing levels still covers up the fact that there are significant changes in staffing levels each day.

Payroll records show that facilities that were rated positively by Medicare for staffing levels were still short nurses and aides on certain days, according to The New York Times’ article on Kaiser’s analysis.  

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees nursing home inspections, is taking steps to address understaffing at nursing homes. The agency said it would lower ratings for facilities that went seven days or more without a registered nurse on duty.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Understaffing is one of the common reasons for nursing home abuse. Staff members who are on-duty are overworked and stressed out, and this causes some patients to be ignored. There are also cases when overworked staff members lash out at residents, physically or verbally abusing them.

Our Milwaukee personal injury lawyers take nursing home abuse cases involving understaffing and a variety of other forms of negligence. We have detailed knowledge of the complexity of these cases and what it takes to be successful.

We offer a free, no obligation legal consultation and will not charge for our services unless you receive compensation.

Schedule your free, no obligation legal consultation today by calling 414-333-3333 .

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