Federal law requires Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes to have a registered nurse (RN) on duty at least 8 hours a day, 7 days a week; and a licensed nurse (RN or LPN) on duty 24 hours a day. There are no minimum staffing requirements for nurse’s aides. RNs are required to have more education and specialized training than LPNs, and LPNs have more education and training than aides. One way nursing homes save money is by cutting staffing of RNs and LPNs, leaving patient care mainly to nursing aides. In addition, each aide is likely assigned too many patients at once to be able to provide them with the best care. This type of understaffing in nursing homes can lead to inadequate patient care where patients fall, develop bedsores, or are otherwise neglected.
Kentucky is in the minority of states who do not have laws more stringent than the federal requirements; 37 states do have more stringent staffing requirements. The federal expectations for staffing are that registered nurses provide one hour of direct care each day to each resident, and almost three hours of direct care by nurse’s aides to each patient daily. On average, Kentucky nursing homes report 43 minutes of daily care from registered nurses and 19 minutes from nurse’s aides. 43% of Kentucky’s nursing homes have “below average” or “much below average” ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Understaffing in nursing homes is very dangerous for patients and often leads to neglect and patient injuries or death. In our nursing home cases, we use a very direct and mathematical approach to the understaffing element of a nursing home neglect case. If you are looking for a nursing home neglect lawyer in Kentucky, ask them how they handle the understaffing component of the case.