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Biden Administration Seeks Nursing Home Staff Mandates

Nursing home staff member helps a patient in a wheelchair.

The Biden Administration is seeking to address the long-standing problem of staffing shortages in nursing home facilities by implementing a federal minimum staffing requirement sometime next year. The rule would impact 15,500 nursing homes across the country.

Inadequate staffing leads to nursing home neglect. Studies have shown nursing home residents experience more complications, including bedsores and falls, when there aren’t enough front-line nurses in facilities.

Residents suffer when there is not enough staffing

“Insufficient nursing staff can negatively impact all residents in a nursing home,” one study found. ”Numerous studies of nursing homes reveal a strong positive relationship between the number of nursing home staff who provide direct care to residents on a daily basis and the quality of care and quality of life of residents.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic highlighted widespread staffing issues and prompted the administration to take action. Nearly 160,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19, along with 2,700 staff members.

While no specific numbers have been announced, a 2001 report for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers some insight. The report determined that to prevent problems such as bedsores and falls, nursing homes should provide at least 4.1 hours of care to residents daily – the equivalent of one nurse for every seven residents.

Resistance from the nursing home industry expected

In 2019, only about a third of nursing homes met that threshold on at least 80% of the days in the year, according to an estimate from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. A jury in California recently awarded $13.5 million to the family of a nursing home resident after finding that skimping on staffing by the facility led to the man’s death.

Nursing homes are expected to fight any staffing requirements announced. The industry contends that a mandated 4.1 hours per resident per day would cost as much as $10 billion. They also point to a shortage of workers that are willing to work in nursing homes. It says 187,000 new workers would be required and that the government does not provide enough funding to support that kind of staffing.

If you suspect neglect, contact Kurle Justus, LLC.

Critics say the industry makes enough profit to hire more workers and make the jobs more desirable. Nursing homes typically offer low pay, insufficient staffing, and don’t hire enough workers, said Kelly Bagby, vice president at AARP Foundation Litigation and a former senior counsel in the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office.

Staffing shortages often lead to nursing home neglect. As a result, residents may experience poor hygiene, malnutrition, dehydration, medication errors, contaminated food, poor monitoring (falls, choking), bedsores, sepsis, and other serious health issues that can be life-threatening.

The attorneys at Kurle Justus, LLC have been fighting for the rights of nursing home residents in Decatur and throughout Georgia since 2004. We are dedicated to ensuring that our clients get the care they need and hold negligent facilities accountable. Learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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