A brief review released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in August 2020 showed that some nursing homes’ staffing levels raise concerns. Research shows that staffing levels in nursing homes across the United States often vary on a day-to-day basis.
Not All Nursing Homes Comply with Federal Staffing Requirements
Under federal staffing requirements, a registered nurse must be on nursing home staff at least 8 hours each day. Also, federal law requires nursing homes to have a licensed nurse on staff around-the-clock.
However, the brief review by the OIG showed that 7% of nursing homes in the U.S. reported more than 30 days in 2018 with staffing levels that were not compliant with one or more of the federal requirements.
The brief also showed that another 7% of nursing homes reported that their staffing levels fell below federal requirements between 16 and 29 days. Interestingly, weekends accounted for 65% of the days with staffing level violations. The OIG analysis is disturbing because it shows that some of the nursing homes with staff level violations may not be able to fully meet their residents’ needs.
Nursing Homes’ Staffing Levels and CMS’ Staffing Star Ratings
In 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services introduced a policy to encourage nursing homes to comply with federal staffing requirements and staff registered nurses every day. Under the new policy, the CMS downgrades a nursing home’s Staffing Star Ratings to 1 Star if the facility has no reported time for a registered nurse at least 7 total days in a quarter.
Following the implementation of the policy, 27% fewer nursing homes reported over 7 days without a registered nurse logging their time. Also, 7% more facilities reported days with some registered nurse time, though the total number of hours was less than 8 hours per day as required by the federal law.
However, the problem with nursing home staffing levels is that individual facilities’ reported daily staffing levels did not match their Staffing Star Ratings. Since Staffing Star Ratings determine nursing homes quarterly averages, they do not reflect day-to-day changes in staffing levels.
Unfortunately, nursing homes’ staffing levels that are based on quarterly averages do not provide the most accurate information regarding facilities’ daily staffing levels to people choosing a nursing home. Differences between a nursing home’s reported daily staffing levels and their Staffing Star Rating based on quarterly averages may be evidence that the facility is not providing consistent care to residents.
Inadequate Staffing Levels and Nursing Home Neglect
The lack of registered or licensed nurses on staff may negatively affect residents and their care plans. When no registered or licensed nurse is present, residents may not be provided the highest quality of care because there is no one to supervise aides. As a result, residents’ basic needs, including bathing and toileting, may not be met. This can lead to preventable falls, bedsores, skin conditions, infections, and many more.
Inadequate staffing levels and unqualified staff are some of the most common causes of nursing home neglect and abuse. Also, the lack of a registered or licensed nurse of staff increases the risk of wrongful death in nursing homes because there is no one to provide emergency medical treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect due to inadequate staffing levels or for any other reasons, contact a knowledgeable Lakeland nursing home neglect attorney. Schedule a consultation with our nursing home neglect lawyer at The Turnbull Firm. Call at 863-324-3500 for a case review.