Nursing home neglect? Study finds under-staffing may be to blame

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2019 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

It is no secret that nursing homes struggle to retain adequate staff. A recent study found that approximately 75% of these facilities are chronically understaffed by registered nurses. Kentucky residents who have loved ones in nursing homes may have reason to worry about the potential for neglect.

Along with alarming under-staffing percentages, researchers also found that an estimated 70% of nursing facilities inflated the numbers of direct care workers using the self-reporting system. Instead of the widely used Casper system, the study relied on payroll data to arrive at a more accurate figure for staffing levels. In spite of objections that payroll data may not give a complete picture, the data reflects a disturbing lack of skilled care at a majority of nursing homes, especially during the weekends. It was noted that the discrepancy between self-reported totals and payroll data was greater at for-profit homes than at non-profits and government-funded facilities. 

The report indicated an alarming majority of facilities fail to meet federal guidelines for staffing levels. The issue is worse in relation to registered nurses on duty, as nearly 91% of homes miss recommended levels approximately 60% of the time. There are concerns that other areas of care that are used to measure quality are also overlooked. Issues, such as pressure sores and pain levels, may not be adequately measured, leading to inaccurate quality ratings. In addition, fall injuries and medication errors are more likely to occur when staff levels are lower.

Efforts to increase pay at lower-wage hospitals may result in more pressure on nursing home staff levels. It was noted that some facilities appear to increase staffing levels in the weeks before a scheduled inspection. Until a solution can be found, Kentucky residents will likely be more vigilant in looking for signs of neglect at their loved one’s facility. If a patient has suffered harm from neglect, an experienced attorney can provide assistance in recovering documented damages.