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U.S. House Bill Would Require 24/7 RN Presence in Nursing Homes

August 21, 2014

Medicare and Medicaid nursing facilities would be required to have at least one registered nurse (RN) on duty at all times if a bill introduced by Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) is signed into law.

Schakowsky introduced the Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act of 2014 on July 31.

The text of the bill requires the estimated 16,000 skilled nursing facilities receiving Medicare and/or Medicaid funds to “use the services of at least 1 registered professional nurse to provide assessment, surveillance, and direct care to residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Currently, nursing homes are required to have an on-duty RN for just eight hours a day according to the terms of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.

In a statement, Schakowsky said, “The absence of RN staffing for up to 16 hours each day means that there is no one present who can respond when residents’ medical conditions suddenly change or deteriorate.

“We must ensure that seniors and the disabled in nursing homes are not harmed because there is no RN on site to take care of their needs,” she continued.

Increased RN presence in nursing homes has been linked to fewer pressure sores and urinary tract infections, lower hospitalization rates, and even significant cost savings, reported Paula Span in the New York TimesNew Old Age blog.

— by Matthew Ozga

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