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Low staffing at nursing homes can lead to nursing negligence

Poor patient care, injuries and even wrongful death can result from nursing negligence in any Illinois nursing home. But could negligence in our nation’s nursing homes be minimized simply by making sure that facilities are properly staffed? According to a recent analysis, the answer may be yes.

An analysis of the quality of care at some of the nation’s largest for-profit nursing home chains indicates that negligence may be more common at these facilities as a direct result of staffing problems. The analysis was led by the University of California, San Francisco.

While nursing negligence can occur in any health-care environment, the results of the UCSF analysis suggest that negligence is more likely to occur at for-profit nursing homes. The study contends that these establishments sometimes put profits over patient care by reducing its number of registered nurses. For example, from 2003 to 2008, the nation’s 10 largest chains of nursing homes provided only 70 percent of nurse “staffing hours” compared to nursing homes led by the government or nonprofit groups.

At the same time, the for-profit chains received substantially higher citations for poor care including: falls, infections, rapid weight loss, poor sanitary conditions, pressure sores, resident mistreatment and other forms of negligence and nursing home abuse.

The study also found that the leading for-profit chains had fewer staff members scheduled on duty compared to the national average for staffing levels at other nursing homes. The analysis noted that the staffing levels of registered nurses were particularly lower than the national average.

One of the author’s of the study concluded that the nursing home industry needs to do more in order to improve the quality of care patients are receiving, but she fears that recent cuts in Medicare payments for nursing home residents may prompt nursing homes to make more cuts in staffing and wages.

Source: USCF, “Low Staffing and Poor Quality of Care at Nation’s For-Profit Nursing Homes,” Elizabeth Fernandez, Nov. 29, 2011


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