Evidence That More Nurses Helps Improve Patient Care

By Nursing Home Law Center


There is significant evidence that hires more nurses in a rural health care setting can improve the level and quality of care provided to every patient. A January 2015 Policy Brief released by the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center showed that there was a significant correlation between the ratio of nursing employees for every full-time registered nurse at the facility. The best ratio indicated that facilities with one full-time registered nurse for four full-time nursing staff members prove to create the most beneficial outcomes for its residents.

The information released showed that, on average, facilities in rural communities had significant improvements using this nurse staffing ratio when providing care to its long term residents. The scoring was gathered from long-term resident factors including individual indicators like the prevalence of urinary tract infections and pressure sores in the nursing home.

The study also showed that the level of quality care provided by the nursing staff was in direct correlation to the number of hours the registered nurses and other nurse employees worked overall. As an example, minimizing nursing hours for each resident per day (the number of nurses and registered nurses working at any given time) correlated to overall poor quality nursing performance in rural facilities. Alternatively, increasing the number of nurses’ aides working at the facility for every registered nurse at any given time showed an overall improvement that included fewer pressure ulcers and better daily living activity outcomes for its residents.

Required Staffing Levels Mandated at Some Medical Facilities

Nursing homes, healthcare centers and rehab facilities are notorious for being understaffed. To make matters worse, understaffed or untrained staff at nursing facilities often means employees are overworked, which usually results in higher employee turnover.

As per federal law, both Medicaid and Medicare certified nursing facilities are required to have a Director of Nursing (who must be a registered nurse) and a registered nurse on duty seven days a week for a minimum of eight hours each day. A licensed registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) must be on duty at all other times. Unfortunately, the federal law does not require a minimum staffing level for the facility’s nurses’ aides who are in charge of providing residents their day-to-day care to manage their health and hygiene.

Federal agencies require the nursing home to hire and utilize sufficient numbers of staff members to ensure that services provided are attained and maintained so that each resident receives the best physical, psychosocial and mental care. To do this, the facility is required to provide each nurses’ aide a minimum training of 75 hours to ensure they do their job correctly and effectively.

Protections and Rights of Patients at Medicare-Approved Nursing Homes

Every resident receiving care in a Medicare-certified nursing facility has specific protections and rights mandated by state and federal laws to ensure they receive a high level of quality care. By law, the nursing facility must tell the resident about their rights and have them fully explained in writing. Some of these guarantee protections and rights include:

  • Respect – Nursing home residents are given the right to always be treated with respect and dignity and have an active participation in scheduling activities of their choice. This includes the right to make the decisions of what to eat, when to go to bed and went to awake in the morning.

  • Participation in Activities – Residents also have the right to participate in any activity offered at the facility that meets their needs.

  • Freedom from Discrimination – Even though the nursing facility has the right to reject an applicant, they must still comply with all federal, state and local civil rights laws.

  • Freedom from Abuse and Neglect – Residents have the right of protection against physical, sexual, verbal and mental abuse as well as financial exploitation.

If you, or a loved one, have suffered abuse, neglect, discrimination or disrespect while residing in a nursing facility, Nursing Home Law Center LLC at (800) 926-7565 can provide help. Our team of nursing home abuse attorneys can take immediate legal action and assist you in obtaining financial compensation for your harm.

Related Information

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources

Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric