Nursing homes rarely face sanctions for staffing violations, report shows

Only 4 percent of U.S. nursing homes are cited by government inspectors for flouting federal registered nurse staffing level rules, and even fewer face fines for doing so, a USA Today investigation has found.

When other types of caregivers are factored in, approximately one-third of U.S. nursing homes fall short of multiple government benchmarks, the investigation reported. These include instances of having no registered nurses on duty for an entire 24-hour period.

When such facilities are so short-staffed, essential tasks such as transporting residents to doctor's appointments and answering call buttons go by the wayside, the report noted. Dementia can set in faster and residents get sicker, and die quicker.

The problem, which the report showed disproportionately affects people of color and low income residents, existed long before COVID-19, USA Today reported.

By comparing millions of nursing home timesheets and thousands of inspection reports to federal staffing requirements, the report showed a "staggering pattern of failure."

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