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Are residents in short-staffed Illinois nursing homes safe?

Fri 24 Aug, 2018 / by / General

Illinois nursing homes are facing a staffing shortage at the worst possible time. With an increase of patients and fewer employees on the clock, there is a significant threat to patient safety.

recent report states that 280 nursing home facilities in Illinois are under-staffed. The data for this report was gathered by Medicare and analyzed by Kaiser Health News. Medicare is interested in staffing levels because they can be indicative of neglect, and if cited for neglect: the facility’s Medicare funding may be at risk.

According to Medicare’s guidelines, adequate care means that each resident receives 30-45 minutes of staff attention per day. Data from 2017 indicates that at least 70 percent of nursing home residents do not receive adequate care.

One of the most shocking figures from the report was that six nursing homes in Illinois reported having one nurse for every 100 or more residents on some occasions.

Consequences of inadequate nursing care

Residents who receive inadequate nursing care are prone to a wide range of issues including:

  • Dehydration
  • Bed sores
  • Weight loss
  • Emotional isolation
  • Malnutrition
  • Depression
  • Reduced mobility
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Infection

Data collection by Medicare began with the Affordable Care Act in 2010. In order to collect higher quality data, Medicare enforced a new payroll system on nursing facilities. As it turns out, the system may not be accurately capturing the hours of salaried staff who work overtime. This inaccuracy could be throwing off the staffing ratios significantly.

The bottom line is, we do not have a clear understanding of what is happening inside of America’s nursing homes. If the shortage is as significant as it appears to be, a solution needs to be put in place.