Fifteen percent of U.S. nursing homes receive deficiency citations for infection control per year, according to a new study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
Researchers discovered a strong correlation between low staffing levels and the receipt of a deficiency citation for infection control requirements, known as F-Tag 441. Infections are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in nursing homes and are responsible for nearly 400,000 deaths per year.
A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health analyzed citation data collected for the purpose of Medicare/Medicaid certification between 2000 and 2007, representing approximately 16,000 U.S. nursing homes—or 96% of such facilities—and a panel of roughly 100,000 observations.
“Most significantly,” the researchers wrote, “the issue of staffing is very prominent in our findings; that is, for all three caregivers examined (i.e., nurse aides, LPNs and RNs) low staffing levels are associated with F-Tag 441 citations. With low staffing levels, these caregivers are likely hurried and may skimp on infection control measures, such as hand hygiene.”
The researchers suggested increased emphasis on infection control programs in nursing homes to reduce the number of deficiency citations.
A number of states have enacted legislation that applies to infection prevention practices in long-term care facilities. Illinois is poised to pass legislation requiring an infection prevention specialist in each skilled nursing facility, APIC noted in a release.