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New Mexico Sues Major Nursing Home Chain over Low Staffing Levels

December 9, 2014

New Mexico’s attorney general has sued the country’s tenth-largest operator of nursing homes, alleging that low staffing levels in its facilities have resulted in inadequate care for residents.

The privately held company, Preferred Care Partners Management Group L.P., is based in Plano, Texas, and operates nursing homes in at least 10 states, the Associated Press reports.

In his lawsuit, state attorney general Gary King combines statistical analysis with testimony from confidential witnesses to argue that quality care for residents is mathematically impossible to achieve given the low staffing levels in Preferred Care’s New Mexico facilities.

King’s analysis found that the number of staffing hours necessary to provide quality care was deficient by as much as 50 percent.

In one Preferred Care-operated facility, residents received just 25 minutes of direct care per day from certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Statewide, nursing homes in New Mexico provided an average of 2.3 hours of direct care per resident per day in 2014, according to statistics compiled by the advocacy group Families for Better Care.

CNAs were often so overwhelmed at the Preferred Care facilities that residents ended up being “deprived of food and water” for extended periods of time, the lawsuit says.

Residents’ hygiene suffered as a result of the understaffing, the lawsuit further alleges.

Studies have linked higher CNA staffing levels to lower risk for falls and higher resident satisfaction.

— by Matthew Ozga

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