Do Regulators Let Nursing Home Understaffing Slide?

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A recent report has found that nursing homes across the country are vastly understaffed and they are not receiving citations for going against regulations.

A new report by the Long-Term Community Care Coalition has found that while insufficient staffing is a widespread problem in nursing homes, state nursing home surveyors rarely issue citations for it. The report, titled “Broken Promises,” analyzes nursing home citations from 2018 until 2020. 

As the LTCCC explains, an extensive body of research demonstrates that staffing levels are positively correlated with the quality of resident care. As such, nursing home regulations require that facilities maintain “sufficient staff, with the appropriate competencies, to meet the clinical, emotional, and psycho-social needs of every resident.” In spite of this, studies and news reports show that understaffing is prevalent in nursing homes across the country, with inadequate staffing resulting in issues like increased pressure ulcers and weight loss among residents. The LTCCC itself issues quarterly reports on nursing home staffing, which have shown rampant understaffing. 

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Nursing home advocates believe that a lack of proper funding has lead to issues with insufficient staffing, which then leads to improper care of patients and not being able to give them the medical attention they require. 

In its “Broken Promises” report, the LTCCC found that state inspectors issued only 2,625 sufficient staffing citations between 2018 and 2020. Among those citations the identification of “resident harm or immediate jeopardy”—a classification that makes it more likely for facilities to receive penalties for inadequate care— was “extremely rare.” The report describes a case in a Michigan nursing home in which 14 residents did not receive a “timely call light response” or “adequate staffing.” One resident said, “For the last couple weeks there has only been two people at night… I have had a [medical condition]. It can be frightening.”

The LTCCC argues that despite longtime assertions by nursing home lobbyists that insufficient staffing is the result of insufficient funding, “there are no reliable data to support that claim.” The report concludes that there is a systemic failure to hold nursing homes accountable for inadequate staffing, asking: “Whose interests are the state survey agencies working to protect – those of residents and families or those of the nursing home industry?”

More information on the LTCCC’s analysis of nursing home staffing is available via its report. 

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.

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