Not Enough Nurses = Higher Risk For Nursing Home Residents

April 29th, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

There is a nursing shortage in Maryland and nationwide, and as time goes on it’s expected to get worse. Nursing homes are notorious for under-paying their staff and having insufficient member of qualified staff. Qualified nurses often have their choice of jobs, and working for low pay in a poorly run nursing home may not be very appealing. This understaffing negatively impacts nursing home residents.

The country’s biggest for-profit nursing homes provide significantly lower quality of care because they normally have fewer staff nurses than non-profit and government-owned nursing homes, according to a 2011 study by researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). The analysis focused on staffing and quality at the ten largest for-profit chains.

“Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains,” said co-author Charlene Harrington, RN, PhD, professor of sociology and nursing at the UCSF School of Nursing. “The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits … They are not making quality a priority.”

The ten biggest for-profit chains have about 2,000 nursing homes in the country, controlling about 13% of the country’s nursing home beds as of 2011. Researchers found for-profit nursing home chains try to reduce their costs by cutting staffing, particularly RN staffing, to increase profitability. The study produced these conclusions about the top ten chains 2003 to 2008:

  • The for-profit chains had fewer nurse “staffing hours” than non-profit and government nursing homes.
  • Even though they had the sickest residents, their total nursing hours were 30% lower than non-profit and government nursing homes.
  • RN staffing levels were well below the national average and below the minimum nurse staffing recommended by experts.
  • These nursing homes had 36% more deficiencies and 41% more serious deficiencies than the best facilities, including failure to prevent pressure sores, weight loss, falls, infections, resident mistreatment, poor sanitary conditions and other problems that could seriously harm residents.

According to the study, the four largest for-profit nursing home chains that were purchased by private equity firms from 2003 to 2008 had more deficiencies after being acquired.

The ten nursing home chains that were studied were: HCR Manor Care, Golden Living, Life Care Centers of America, Kindred Healthcare, Genesis HealthCare Corporation, Sun Health Care Group, Inc., SavaSeniorCare LLC, Extendicare Health Services, Inc., National Health Care Corporation and Skilled HealthCare, LLC.

If you or a loved one has suffered because a Maryland nursing home lacked sufficient staff to properly care for residents, we can help you address the situation and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.

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