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Poor Staffing Plays Dangerous Role In Patient Care Settings

nursing home neglect

Payroll Records Indicate Nursing Home Staffing Shortages Create Serious Gaps in Patient Care

Only recently did the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) begin collecting and reviewing daily payroll records from more than 14,000 nursing homes. The publishing of the data became required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Kaiser Health News recently analyzed the submissions and caught that most U.S. nursing homes have been operating grossly understaffed and reporting a false review of average employee shifts. Kaiser claims these nursing homes had:

  • Significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends when personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as normal.
  • The number of patients without supported care increases over the weekend.
  • A shortage of registered nurses or no registered nurses at work for long periods of time resulting in fewer nurses and trained aides providing direct care.
  • Aides at a typical home are caring for as many as 14 residents during the week, some with severe cognitive disease and others with extreme special needs.

CMS, responded to the findings in a statement that expressed concern saying it is “taking steps to address fluctuations in staffing levels that have emerged from the new data.” CMS officials also said Nursing Home Compare website ratings will be lowered if it has found a facility has gone seven or more days without a registered nurse on staff.

Lower Staffed Facilities and Underqualified, Poorly Paid Workers Create Hazardous Care Environments

It’s alarming but not surprising to find out that most nursing homes actually have fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they report or tell families. If there are not sufficient care workers at a facility it is always the nursing home residents who will suffer. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers have worked on many cases where understaffing or poorly paid staff created an easy environment for residents to become neglected, abused and mistreated. Unfortunately we have learned, in a drive to lower expenses and increase profits for owners and investors, those in charge of making decisions about staffing levels often first cut care needs at dangerous levels. For example, in 2017, nurse assistants earned an average of just $13.23 an hour for carrying the stressful load related to caring for a vulnerable, needy population. The poor pay rates just make it more difficult for qualified help to make a living and for a home to retain good care workers for longer periods of times. Change is needed.

Nursing Home Staff Can Share Concerns, Report Issues and Speak with a Lawyer

At Levin & Perconti, we recognize the frustrated, overworked and underpaid care workers who ultimately save lives by speaking up and reporting violations of the law, rules, or regulations regarding the care and treatment of nursing home residents in their charge. We frequently have care workers contacting our attorneys to share concerns or report violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. If an employer retaliates against an employee in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act, the affected employee may bring a civil action against the employer for multiple types of relief.

Consultations with our attorneys are both free and confidential. Please call us at (312) 332-2872 or complete our free online consultation request form.