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Skilled nursing facilities dealing with more high acuity patients

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2023 | Health Law Attorneys, Healthcare Business

Nursing homes in Texas and around the country are dealing with an increased percentage of patients with higher acuity than previously. When patients have complex medical needs and require more care, it can place a strain on the nursing staff within the facility. This is occurring at the same time that nursing homes across the nation are dealing with staff shortages, increasing the risks of patient injuries caused by inadequate staffing based on the needs of the patients.

Understanding acuity

Acuity refers to the medical needs of a patient and can include the patient’s need for medication, mobility assistance, bathing and toileting assistance, memory care, and other acute needs. The population of nursing home patients with high acuity scores has been increasing as people are living longer. Among people who require rehabilitation but show little improvement, the population currently stands at 34%. At the same time, skilled nursing facilities across the country are struggling to meet the staffing requirements under the federal healthcare law. With the higher acuity population, the number of nurses and direct care staff has increased to 191,000 from 187,000.

Changes that could help

Nursing facilities need to consider changes that could help them address the needs of higher acuity and medically complex patients. Deploying technology within a facility to allow for remote monitoring could help staff quickly respond to patients when necessary. Building out networks to include ancillary staff such as direct support staff who can help with patient exercising, activity levels, and mobility could help with the particular type of patient mixes that nursing homes are handling.

Having a higher percentage of medically complex patients in nursing facilities increases the risks of falls, medical errors, and other problems that could result in serious patient injuries and hospitalizations. Nursing facilities should consider options to maintain a high level of quality care while protecting patients from harm.