Staffing Requirements for Nursing Homes
Much like student-teacher ratios, nurse to patient staffing ratios directly impact the quality of care provided to nursing home patients. Nursing home patients are dependent on CNAs, nurses, and other aids for activities of daily living. Insufficient staff leaves nursing home patients vulnerable to pressure ulcers, falls, malnutrition and dehydration. Unfortunately the federal nursing home regulations only require "sufficient" staff. They do not specify a specific a minimum ratio. The lack of specificity is an invitation to abuse.
As I've commented in other blog posts, the drive to maximize profits leads to understaffing in nursing homes as labor is the most expensive cost in operating a nursing home. Nursing home lawsuits often focus on the sufficiency and competence of the staff. By holding nursing homes accountable to injuries due to insufficient staffing, nursing homes will lose the financial incentive to provide insufficient staff.