More Than One-Third of Nursing Homes Not in Compliance With State Staffing Law, Report Finds
More than one-third of nursing homes in California do not meet state-mandated nurse staffing levels, a factor that affects the quality of patient care, results in weight loss in some patients and causes some patients to spend more time in physical restraints, according to a report released Thursday by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Sacramento Bee reports (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 6/3). The report, titled "Nursing Homes: A System in Crisis," analyzed citations and financial reports from the state's 1,400 nursing homes using nine state and federal databases (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 6/3). The report found that in 2002, 37% of nursing homes did not comply with a 2000 state law that requires facilities to provide 3.2 hours of direct patient care to each resident, down from 46% in 2001 (Sacramento Bee, 6/3). In the report, researchers determined that staffing deficiencies contributed to a turnover rate of more than 66% among nursing home personnel, mostly because of "burnout" and low pay, according to the Tribune.
The report also found that complaints about nursing homes increased by 38% from 2000 to 2002. In 2002, the Department of Health Services issued deficiencies -- warnings for minor problems -- to 43% of nursing homes, and 26% of nursing homes received citations, including fines, from DHS, according to the report. Of the nursing homes cited, 78% were found to be in "serious noncompliance with federal care and safety recommendations," and 11% were found to have "very serious quality care problems," according to the Tribune. In addition, nearly 50% of nursing homes reported either zero or negative profit margins in 2002.
Betsy Hite, spokesperson for the California Association of Health Facilities, said, "This report validates what a lot of people have been saying. Medi-Cal funding for nursing homes is not adequate" (Oakland Tribune, 6/3). Medi-Cal pays for care for more than half of the state's 110,000 nursing home residents, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 6/3). Charlene Harrington, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing and lead researcher for the report, said, "What we need to get out there is there is a big variation among homes" (Oakland Tribune, 6/3). She added, "I think that's why you still have so many quality problems. The staffing is so fundamental" (Sacramento Bee, 6/3). The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.