Staffing totals don't add up

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Nursing homes were placed under a hot spotlight in mid-July after The New York Times ran a lengthy story criticizing fluctuations and apparent understaffing revealed through a new federal data collection process.

The article focused on a Kaiser Health News analysis of Payroll-Based Journal data, which only recently replaced providers' self-reported figures.

The PBJ data revealed that 7 in 10 facilities had lower staffing than when self-reported; there was a net 12% average decrease.

The newspaper further claimed that the new process is still “flawed.”

The Elder Justice Coalition on July 10 called for Congress to investigate. But providers defended their efforts to improve quality and said that resident and family satisfaction scores should be given more credence.

“While staffing is important, what really matters is what the overall outcomes are,” said David Gifford, M.D., senior vice president at the American Health Care Association, noting that certain times of the week do not need as many workers on hand.