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Where are all the Nurses in Nursing Homes?

By Paul da Costa on August 22, 2014


When we put an elderly family member into a nursing home, we expect them to receive adequate care, especially considering their likely declining health.  Most people, however, would be shocked to find out that a registered nurse is not always on duty in a nursing home.  In fact, the 1987 federal law regarding nursing homes requires only that a registered nurse be on the premises for 8 hours per day regardless of the size of the home. 

In recent years, however, this law has become controversial, especially in Congress.  As the New York Times recently reported, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), introduced a new bill that will require a registered nurse to be on the premises 24/7 in all nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid. 

While some states do require that a registered nurse be present in nursing homes 24 hours per day.  Other states, however, only impose this requirement for nursing homes of a considerable size.  Still, of the 50 states, only around fifteen have addressed this issue at all.  Realistically, it is nearly impossible to determine how many homes do have registered nurses on site, how many nurses the home employs, and the hours that the nurses work.  For example, a home may employ 3 nurses, but they all may work during the day. 

Representative Schakowsky’s bill outlines the specific need for registered nurses in nursing homes.  Registered nurses are trained to evaluate a patient’s condition on a moment’s notice and act accordingly.  Research has suggested that the presence of registered nurses in a nursing home leads to less bedsores and urinary tract infections; shorter hospital stays for residents, and better evaluations in state inspections.  More importantly, adding registered nurses to homes wouldn’t be very costly.  Rather, critics worry about finding enough nurses to fill the positions.

Putting a loved one into a nursing home can be a difficult decision for any family.  When doing so, everyone wants to ensure that his or her loved one is being appropriately cared for.  If you or a family member has received inadequate treatment or has been neglected while residing in a nursing home, possibly due to a lack of skilled staff members, you may have a nursing home malpractice claim.  The experienced attorneys at Snyder & Sarno, LLC can help you navigate the legal field and obtain compensation for your injuries.  Call us today at (973) 274-5200.  

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