Study Shows Nursing Home Patients Injured During Treatment

When we trust the care of our elderly loved ones to skilled nursing facilities, we expect that they’ll receive proper treatment and won’t suffer unnecessary harms. Nobody anticipates nursing home abuse and neglect, but a recent article in ProPublica indicates that about one-third of patients in skilled nursing facilities suffer harms during their treatments. Based on a study conducted by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “nearly 22,000 patients were injured and more than 1,500 died in a single month—a higher rate of medical errors than hospitals.”

Is your elderly loved one in safe hands at her nursing home? Nursing home neglect occurs more frequently than we’d like to think. And while California legislators are hoping to change some of the rules for residential facilities in our state, it’s important to be vigilant. If you suspect that an older adult has been mistreated in a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today.

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility, often referred to as an “SNF,” is what we commonly think of as a nursing home. In short, it’s a licensed healthcare facility that undergoes regulation and inspection by the state. Skilled nursing facilities can offer both long-term and short-term care for older adults who require medical treatment or rehabilitations services for health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to SeniorHomes.com. The key point is this: skilled nursing facilities provide a higher level of care than assisted living facilities. In California, you may know assisted living facilities as “RCFEs,” which aren’t licensed to provide the higher level of care of a skilled nursing facility.

Details of Patients’ Harms in Nursing Homes

The recent report indicated that “one-in-three patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection, or some other type of harm related to their treatment.” And of these injuries, nearly 60 percent were preventable, according to physicians who reviewed the files. And while it may not be the first thing on our minds, the financial implications are also very high. For instance, of the nursing home patients who sustained injuries, more than half required additional hospital treatments that totaled approximately $208 million in the course of a month, or “about 2 percent of Medicare’s total inpatient spending.”

More patients suffer harms in skilled nursing facilities than in hospitals, and this fact is disconcerting to many patient safety experts, as hospital errors typically receive the most media attention. According to Dr. Marty Makary, a physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the recent report provides evidence that “there are vast areas of health care,” such as that in nursing homes, “where the field of patient safety has not matured.”

Some key injury statistics from the report include:

  • Lasting harm occurred in 22 percent of the cases studied
  • Temporary harm occurred in only 11 percent of the cases studied
  • The injured patient died in 1.5 percent of the cases due to poor care

What caused the harms? According to the report, the following were listed as causes of patient injuries:

  • Substandard treatment
  • Inadequate monitoring
  • Delays in providing needed care or failure to provide needed care

The report identified patient deaths caused by:

  • Preventable blood clots
  • Fluid imbalances
  • Excessive bleeding (caused by blood-thinning medications)
  • Kidney failure

Has your older parent sustained an injury while residing in a skilled nursing facility? It is very important to contact an elder law professional. At the Walton Law Firm, our dedicated attorneys have experience handling nursing home abuse cases and can discuss your claim with you today.

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

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