May 17, 2011

Higher Nursing Home Infection Rates Linked to Low Nursing Staff Levels

by Levin & Perconti

It doesn’t take a study for a Chicago nursing home lawyer to tell you that local nursing homes with the fewest actual nurses are more likely to allow the preventable spread of infections among residents at the facility. Common sense dictates that fewer medical professionals at these homes mean that residents will have less direct contact with personnel who can take steps to ensure that they remain free of medical complications, like nursing home infections.

A recent article in AMED News provides more specific data to back up that logical fact. The research was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. The investigators took several years of records related to the certification process for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid studies —from 2000 to 2007. The data provided information on staffing levels deficiency citations and characteristics. In addition, over 100,000 observations were added to the information to provide a large sample linking infection rates and known problems at nursing homes with the amount of nursing staff at the facilities. Overall, 96% of nursing homes in the United States were represented in this study.

The results, published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that a large number of homes have problems holding preventable infections in check. Nearly one-sixth of all facilities were specifically cited by CMS for problems in this area. Nursing staff levels were found to very clearly correlate with the worst offenders. More specifically, those homes that provided the fewest care hours with nurses and nurse’s aides were much more likely to have trouble sustaining proper infection control.

The researchers concluded with the take-away that these facilities should ensure that their staffing levels remain robust to help protect these vulnerable elders.

Considering that a staggering 400,000 nursing home residents are killed every single year because of infections, our Illinois nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe that there is no excuse for failing to take action to save lives. It is important that all those involved in this process—from the nursing home administrators to the legislators who dictate nursing home law—be made aware of the need to keep out seniors safe and provide them with adequate nursing care.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Illinois Nursing Home Infections May Be Caused By Understaffing

Some Illinois Nursing Homes Focusing on Quality of Life Improvements