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Additional Quality of Care Concerns

Published on December 12th, 2007

Theres an article out of Lafayette, Louisiana about short staffing which points out that short staffing can lead to abuse and neglect in more ways than one.  Typically, we think that short staffing leads to poor care because of the high patient to staff ratio, or because of employee stress, but this article points out something I hadn’t thought of.  When facilities are short staffed, they often turn to agency staffing out of necessity.  However, although nursing home facilities are required to run background checks on all of their employees, staffing agencies don’t always do this, and the nursing home is "caught in the middle"  They have to have sufficient staff, and they can’t wait, so they use agency staff – they don’t always know if background checks have been performed. 

Further complicating the problem is that the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has no oversight of medical staffing agencies; in fact, The Louisiana Nursing Home Association Executive Director states that as far as he knows, there is no one with oversight over staffing agencies in the state.

Louisiana, like many other states, has the additional problem of having a nursing and CNA shortage, which often forces them to use agency staffing.  I actually think its the residents that are caught in the middle – they are the ones forced to accept a diminished qualtiy of care.  The residents are the ones that have unfamiliar faces taking care of them, and this unfamiliarity often leads to errors on the part of the staff, and certainly is stressful to the residents.

The article goes on to say that there has been a proposal to get DHH to regulate medical staffing agencies, but this has not had much support.  In fact, legislation was sent as a Resolution to a study group, but nothing seems to have come from that.

If you’d like to read the whole article, click here.

Joe Pioletti
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