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Insufficient Staffing in Nursing Homes – Alameda County


In 2010, a Humboldt County jury found a huge nursing home chain guilty of understaffing its facilities in violation of California Health and Safety Code. In 2012, a California appeals court has deemed that a lawsuit may be reinstated alleging understaffed nursing home facilities in Alameda County.

Nursing home abuse and understaffing continue to endanger our most vulnerable elders today, despite the fact that the practice has been ruled illegal and that its perpetrators have been penalized in Alameda and throughout the state of California.

Elders who reside in nursing homes and care facilities need proper care and attention from staff and nurses in order to remain safe, comfortable, and secure. When a nursing home or care facility is understaffed, the quality of care cannot meet the needs of its elderly residents, and the elders suffer. Moreover, the staff and nurses themselves suffer from being overstretched and overworked. For these reasons, there are strict wage and hourly rules and laws for nursing home staffing; the violation of these rules is harmful to nursing home residents and employees alike.

What Is the Proper Nursing Home Staff Ratio?

According to the California nursing home staffing mandate, each patient should be provided with 3.2. nursing hours per day. This means the minimum staff ratio for nursing homes is 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day. A nursing hour is an hour spent on a patient by a certified nurse. Nursing homes in Hayward, Oakland, and throughout Alameda County must abide by this minimum ratio. This rule is primarily in place to protect the rights of elder residents and maintain a high level of care for residents at nursing homes, but also serves to support nurses and staffers in a constantly demanding work environment.

In addition to California laws that apply to Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, there are also federal and state guidelines that regulate the hours that nurses must be on duty in Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes and facilities. Each facility must have a director of nursing (DON) who is on duty for at least 8 hours a day, seven days a week, in addition to a registered nurse (RN) who is on duty for the remaining hours.

Academic studies have found a direct positive correlation between the staffing ratio at nursing homes and the quality of care received by its residents. If you or a loved one is a resident at a nursing home that does not have a DON on duty for 8 hours a day every day of the week or an RN on duty for the rest of the time, you may be receiving subpar care in violation of the nursing home staff ratio. Furthermore, if you are a patient receiving less than 3.2 nursing hours per day of care, you may be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect as a result of understaffing.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered from lack of care at an understaffed or insufficiently staffed nursing home or care facility in Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, or Castro Valley, contact The Evans Law Firm in San Francisco for a free and confidential consultation.

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