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Watchdog Report Documents Serious Problems With Nursing Homes

iStock_000005095599XSmallThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is running a series of articles documenting some of the problems with nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Wisconsin.  After reading the articles, it is apparent that the quality of care nursing home residents receive is deteriorating.  The need for additional regulation of the nursing home industry is apparent.  The 20 year old laws (1987 OBRA) regulating the industry are not producing the results for which they were intended.

Some of the more striking statistics identified in the articles, include:

  • Most nursing home staff positions have high turnover— some nursing positions have more more than 200% annual turnover
  • Bad care in corporation owned nursing homes is more widespread than ever:
    • 401 Number of nursing homes in Wisconsin
    • 56 Number of residents who died in cases in which a nursing home was cited since 2005
    • 359 Number of residents injured in homes from 2005 to 2007
    • 262 Number of homes cited for serious violations in 2005-’07*
    • 109 Number of nursing homes owned by out-of-state companies
    •  $8.7 million Fines issued by state regulators since 2005
    • $3 million Amount of those fines yet to be collected
  • Current training requirements for nurse aids is a joke.  Barbers and beauticians need more training than nursing assistants, state records show.
    • Nursing assistants must get 75 hours of classroom and practical instruction to be state certified. People who style hair for a living need 648 hours of theory and 1,152 hours of practical instruction. The training requirements for certified nursing assistants have not changed since 1987, authorities said.

The authors identified the five most common types of serious safety violations in nursing homes from From 2005-’07:

1. Failure to provide quality care (mostly nursing care and pain management)
2. Failure to prevent or treat pressure ulcers
3. Failure to prevent accidents or provide a safe environment
4. Failure to notify a physician after significant change in a resident’s condition
5. Failure to promptly report alleged abuse or neglect

Ultimately, all safety issues in nursing home are the result of inadequate care and under-staffing.  Most nursing homes are designed to provide 24 hour care to their residents.  Facilities that have higher ratios of nurses to patients tend to provide superior care to their residents.  If there is one criteria to check when evaluating multiple nursing homes facilities, it is to look into the number of nurses on staff and the ratio of nurses to patients.

For laws related to Wisconsin nursing homes, look here.

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