Low Staffing Rates Increase Mortality Risk
Low staffing rates can be thorn in the side of facility administrators, but a new study shows that they may also be to blame for increased risk of death from norovirus (acute gastroenteritis) in nursing homes.
A recent study looked at a cohort of 308 Medicare-certified nursing homes in three states and found that during norovirus outbreaks mortality increased in facilities if nursing hours dipped below 0.75 hours per bed. This was especially true for nursing homes with older resident populations, with residents over 90 experiencing the highest rates of hospitalization and death resulting from the virus.
The study did not prove a causal relationship between staffing levels and mortality risk, however the observation, based on historical data, adds another reason to work to maintain full employment levels. Although lower-than-optimal staffing levels are more of a scheduling/logistics issue on a day-to-day basis, when acute care requirements arise, low levels of nursing care can literally be a matter of life or death.