Nearly 1400 Nursing Homes in U.S. Downgraded by Medicare for Understaffing ConcernsThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released new data concerning nursing home staffing throughout the U.S. that shows nursing homes have increased staffing at crucial times in order to garner higher ratings. In April 2018, CMS instituted a requirement for nursing homes to provide payroll reports on daily basis as opposed to the old system that only required staffing data for the two weeks prior to the scheduled inspection. Under the old system, nursing homes could “staff up” at just the right time in order to make a better impression with the inspection team.

Kaiser Health News analysis of staffing data

As a result of the newly required daily payroll submissions, the last available quarterly report covering April to June reveals that one 1 of 11 nursing homes – nearly 1400 of them – forfeited at least one star level from Medicare as a result of inadequate staffing numbers or failure to provide payroll information proving their level of nursing coverage. The newly acquired data was added to the CMS website – Nursing Home Compare – that publishes nursing home ratings. All of these nursing homes received a one star rating.

A one star rating is given to a nursing home when it has an unusually high number of days during a particular quarter without a registered nurse on site.

One nursing home resident, speaking to the New York Times, described the environment at his facility on the weekends as like a “ghost town.” The staffing data released by CMS confirms this resident’s testimony by revealing the staffing numbers, shown to be at the lowest point on weekends.

The Kaiser Health News’ analysis of staffing data from the last quarter shows that on the weekends there are 11 percent fewer nurses and 8 percent fewer staff working in nursing homes. On the most poorly staffed day, a nursing home had 1 CNA for every 16 residents. On the best staffed today, there was only 1 CNA or nurse’s aide for every 9 residents in a nursing home. Considering all of the resident needs involved, such as help with bathing, eating, using the restroom, administering medications, and other daily tasks, even having 1 CNA for every 9 residents may be pushing the envelope for adequate care.

CMS does not impose a required staff-to-resident ratio. However, it does require a nursing home to have at least one RN on-site for eight hours each day. The analysis conducted by Kaiser Health News discovered:

  • Nonprofit nursing homes have 16 percent more staff than for-profit nursing homes
  • For-profit nursing homes constituted 7 out of 10 nursing homes presently having Medicaid certification
  • Nonprofit nursing homes have 1 RN for every 28 residents (on average)
  • For-profit nursing homes have 1 RN for every 43 residents (on average)

Overburdened staff cannot provide proper care

The financial bottom line seems to be the only plausible reason why a for-profit nursing home would retain fewer staff than a nonprofit. Nursing home payroll expenses are a large percentage of overhead costs in these facilities. Reducing the number of employees results in a large financial savings for the nursing home.

The ratio of nursing home staff to residents is often an important indicator as to whether nursing home abuse and neglect will occur within a facility. Overburdened staff, due to nursing home understaffing, are more likely to take less time with each resident to provide the proper care they need. As well, fewer staff puts pressure on present staff which can lead to significant errors in care. Understaffing is a decision made by those in charge of a nursing home based on business and financial interests. However, your loved ones should not be held hostage to the bottom line of nursing homes and find themselves neglected as a result.

The decision to move your parent or other loved one into a nursing home facility is a highly consequential one for your family. If you have discovered evidence of abuse to your loved one in one of these facilities, it is vital to secure the services of an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys are committed to holding those responsible for the harm of your loved one liable, so that you and your loved one can obtain justice and the financial compensation you deserve for your losses. Call our law office today at 312-600-9585 or send us a message through our contact form to set up a free consultation about your case.