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A report issued this week by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services found that 94% of the nation’s nursing homes were cited for violating federal standards. And not surprising, for-profit homes had more violations than non-profit or government run homes.

Why are the rates so high? This may surprise some since it’s coming from a plaintiff’s attorney, but I do have sympathy for those trying to run nursing homes. I have family members, friends and clients that work in the industry, and it takes a special person to work in that situation day in/day out. The high stress combined with an overall shortage of nurses makes it very difficult to satisfactorily staff a home and keep it staffed.

At least one study has shown that if nursing homes reduce staff turnover then quality of care improves. So an important question is how do you reduce the turnover? A 2004 study by the University of Texas McCombs School of Business (my undergrad alma mater) found that stable leadership from management was a good start. And that matches my own experience in the industry. Having seen good and bad administrators and directors of nursing, good managment can make all the difference.

So why don’t owners get it? I don’t know. But as long as they don’t and keep providing substandard care, we will continue pursuing claims to protect patients.

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