Questions regarding nursing home negligence and the quality of care in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities have traversed the headlines lately, perhaps due to the fact that more and more people require 24-hour assistance or have family members or friends in need of specialized residential treatment.

It may surprise you to learn, however, that most nursing homes do not have registered nurses on site at all times, nor are they required to do so. This according to a recent post on The New York Times’ “New Old Age Blog.”

Advances in medicine as well as developments involving Medicare payment rules have resulted in more patients being discharged from hospitals directly to nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Many of the patients have severe conditions and are prone to complications from their illnesses, prior surgeries, or treatments.

Registered nurses play a vital role in such facilities, and are generally the only nursing staff sufficiently educated and licensed to evaluate a patient’s condition and care or to conduct assessments when the patient’s condition declines. These sometimes life-threatening changes can occur in the middle of the night, outside of normal work hours, and it’s argued that having registered nurses onsite at all times could help many patients whose conditions suddenly change or deteriorate.

To put the “nursing” back in “nursing home,” U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) has introduced a bill intended to improve care at these facilities by requiring all nursing homes that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid reimbursement to have a registered nurse on site 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The attorneys at Sommers Schwartz have represented many patients and families in medical malpractice and negligence actions against nursing home and skilled care facilities. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of poor care or treatment, please give us a call – we’re here to help.