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Federal Government Proposes Increased Nursing Home Staffing Standards

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently announced  a proposed rule that would set  minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes across the country.  Regulators  believe that this would help increase standards of care for the elderly and sick at these facilities, and prevent nursing  home neglect. Unfortunately, low standards of care often result in falls with fractures, decubitus ulcers (bed sores), amputations and wrongful death.

There  are currently more than 1.2 million people who are cared for at one of the country’s 15,000 nursing homes.  The  standards of care for all these patients would be directly impacted by the new regulation.  The   US Department of Health and Human Services says that the rule would, for the first time ever in history, propose a minimum staffing requirement for nursing homes. Poor staffing and poorly trained staff is often the main reason persons in nursing homes suffer abuse and personal injuries.

This  would include a requirement that the facility have a registered nurse on staff 24 hours a day, every single day.  It will also require and set a minimum standard of 3 nursing hours for every resident at the facility. That includes 0.55 hours of care per registered nurse per resident per day and 2.45 hours of care by a nurse aide per resident per day.  In addition, nursing facilities may also be required to provide more than the minimum staffing requirements in case of specific patient needs.

The DHHS believes  that as a result of the rule, more than 75% of the country’s nursing facilities would be forced to re-examine   their staffing requirements and current staffing standards.  The average nursing home in the country currently operates on more than 3.5 nursing hours for every resident on the facility.   However, there continue to be far too many facilities that continue to operate at even below these bare – minimum average staffing standards.

When  nursing   homes operate with lower staffing numbers, it directly impacts the level of care that residents can receive.  It  means that a resident does not get the kind of   attention  he or she requires.  It  might mean that no one is available to help the resident change clothes,  take a shower or maintain basic hygiene  requirements. It means that a resident may not have someone who is able to help in the case of any emergency.  Nursing home residents often fall and suffer fractures because they need assistance to a rest room, but no one is there to provide aide.

The Department of Health and Human Services believes that these standards will help improve standards of care for patients, but the new standard still falls short of the 4.1 hours per resident per day standard which was recommended by a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services a couple of decades ago.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Katz Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to the representation of persons who have suffered injuries  as a result of abuse or neglect in nursing homes in the metro Atlanta region and across the state of Georgia.  If  your loved one is a resident at a nursing home and you believe that he or she has been subjected to inadequate  care, abuse or neglect, talk to an attorney at our firm and discuss  his or her legal options for damages.  Victims of nursing home abuse may qualify for compensation that includes medical costs, and pain and  suffering.  Talk  to a lawyer at our firm and discuss your case. 


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