Study: 1 in 3 California facilities miss staffing targets

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Low staffing contributed to 69% of California nursing home employees leaving their jobs in 2002, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing.

More than one-third (37%) of facilities did not meet the state's minimum nurse-staffing ratios, study authors wrote. California calls for 3.2 hours of direct nursing care per patient day. Further, 93% of the facilities did not meet more stringent recommendations of 4.1 hours per resident day, as contained in a report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The report, which included findings for 2002, said complaints rose 38%, to 8,712. About 1 in 10 residents showed substantial weight loss, a little more than the number who were in bed a dominant amount of time. More than 1 in 6 (17%) were placed in physical restraints.

Betsy Hite, spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Facilities, said the study results were not surprising, given that Medicaid funding amounts to $14.40 per patient day less than the cost of care. The California HealthCare Foundation commissioned the report.