Study Finds 75 Percent of Nursing Homes Fall Short of Federal RN Staffing Expectations

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on July 2, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

Nurse in Nursing HomwA new study done by researchers from Harvard and Vanderbilt reveals that three-fourths (75 percent) of U.S. nursing homes are rarely ever in compliance with federal expectations for staffing of registered nurses (RNs). There are often no RNs in these facilities on weekends.

RN coverage expectations are set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates nursing homes that receive federal funding. The expectations for RN staffing levels are based on the needs of residents at a particular facility. For instance, nursing homes with residents who have more severe needs like mobility and mental health issues would be expected to have more nursing staff in the facility to properly care for these residents.

The Harvard-Vanderbilt study published in the July Issue of Health Affairs examined records from 15,399 nursing homes from April 2017 to March 2018. Researchers discovered that half of senior nursing home facilities met expected benchmarks for overall staffing for only 19 days or fewer between April 2017 and March 2018.

The study also shows that staffing levels were significantly lower during the weekends. After CMS switched to payroll-based journal (PBJ) from self-reported data in April 2018, the data revealed that 96 percent of nursing homes had a registered nurse onsite for at least eight hours a day for 80 percent of the year. However, on weekends 91 percent of facilities met CMS’ expected levels less than 60 percent of the time.

“Adverse events such as falls and medication errors might be more likely to occur during those understaffed days,” researchers said in the study. This is why CMS should use daily payroll data to track staffing variation over time when coming up with star ratings for nursing facilities.

How This May Affect Your Loved Ones

One of the main contributing factors in nursing home neglect is understaffing in the facility. Understaffing can indirectly lead to nursing home abuse because the staff may not be able to attend to the needs of all residents. When nursing home facilities are understaffed, residents may experience the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Painful ulcers (bed sores)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Injuries, like slip and falls
  • Loneliness, fear and isolation
  • Death

Speak to a Qualified Lawyer Today

If you believe that your loved one has fallen victim to negligence or abuse in his or her nursing home facility, you should contact a compassionate Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorney from our team today. We have more than a decade of experience handling these kinds of cases. We can guide you through every step of the legal process so that you have a chance to obtain the justice your loved one deserves. We do not charge for our services unless you win favorable compensation.

Call us today for your free consultation. 414-333-3333

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