Virginia: Nursing Homes – A Lawyer’s Understaffing

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Since 2012, nursing homes have been required to report their nursing staffing levels to the federal government. Staffing for RNs, LPNs, and Aides are tracked.

Form 671 reports staffing levels for the 2-week period prior to the government’s annual inspection. Each nursing facility is rated on a 5-Star scale, with the Staffing Star based on RN staffing reported in Form 671.

Form 2540 reports nursing staffing levels for the entire year. Disturbingly, the nursing staff levels – especially for RN staffing – reported by some nursing homes on the 2-week pre-inspection Form 671 differ materially from those reported by them on the more representative year-long Form 2540.

Such discrepancies – particularly when persisting year-after-year – indicate that the nursing home is gaming the federal government and the general public. For enhanced Star rating, nursing staffing is increased temporarily and/or misstated blatantly for the 2-week pre-inspection period; and for profit, is reduced for the rest of the year (with expensive RN staffing typically being cut back the most).

Obviously nursing home understaffing – particularly such chronic nursing understaffing – can contribute to medical malpractice befalling resident patients. Patient falls, pressure wounds, and medication errors are common examples.