New law would require RNs at all nursing homes 24/7

Thinkstock | Fuse
Thinkstock | Fuse

They’re called “nursing” homes, but as you know, many nursing homes across the country don’t have registered nurses on duty all or even most of the time. Now, that might be changing: A new law has been introduced to Congress that would require all nursing homes in the U.S. to have at least one registered nurse on duty 24 hours a day.

Currently, federal law requires a RN to be on duty only eight hours a day. This stems from a 1987 law intended to reform nursing homes in America. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) recently introduced “Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act.” The title of the new law clearly spells out its purpose: to require a direct-care RN to be in every nursing home 24/7, regardless of the size of the facility. This would affect any nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.

If the House Resolution eventually becomes a law, it won’t require changes at every facility; 13 states already have the 24-hour requirement in some form, according to the New York Times. However, statutes vary in these 13 states, with some only requiring 24-hour RN staffing at facilities of a certain size.

However, the Times blog cites Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination research estimating that 11.4 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. do not have a RN on duty 24 hours a day. The article also cites research showing increased RN staffing results in overall cost savings in addition to improved care.

Nurses: weigh in on this. Do you think all nursing homes should have a 24/7 RN requirement, or can exceptions be made? Do you work at a nursing home that does not have an RN on duty at all times? If the resolution passes, do you see more nurse jobs being created in certain areas? Let us know in the comments below.

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