When an elderly loved one in San Diego requires nearly constant medical care, many family members are at their most concerned when that loved one has to be hospitalized. However, according to a recent article in California Healthline, one of the most dangerous periods for elderly patients actually starts after they leave the hospital, and perhaps not for the reasons you might think. The problem is not that the elderly person does not receive sufficient care after a hospital visit, but rather that the patient failed to receive proper care while in the healthcare facility. Does this rise to the level of elder neglect?
Problems Associated with Poor Transitional Care
The time between leaving the hospital and receiving care either from a home caregiver or staff members at a nursing home in Southern California is known as a period of “transitional care.” As Alicia Arbaje, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explains, “poor transitional care is a huge, huge issue for everybody, but especially for older people with complex needs.” While “the most risky transition,” Arbaje explains, “is from hospital to home with the additional need for home care services,” since it is the type of situation about which the least is known, injuries resulting from poor transitional care can also happen when the patient goes from a hospital to a local nursing home.
How do injuries happen? Who may be liable? In some situations, the hospital may have a responsibility to the patient to ensure a certain level of transitional care. For instance, in one case mentioned in the article, an elderly patient received the wrong prescription drug—a medical error—and suffered fatal injuries as a result. In such a situation, the hospital may have been liable, as well as other healthcare providers at the facility. Is this simply a case of medical malpractice, or is it also possible that such an error falls under the rubric of elder abuse? We have previously discussed the often-gray area that exists in California between medical negligence and elder abuse, and cases involving poor transitional care may be no different.
Nursing Homes Need to Review and Track Medications for New Patients
Some of the onus, to be sure, is on nursing homes to ensure that new patients do not suffer preventable injuries as a result of medical mistakes. As the article explains, a Kaiser Health News analysis reported that medication errors are often missed by nursing home employees or by nurses and staff at other elder care facilities. Over the five-year period from 2010 to 2015, “inspectors identified 3,016 home health agencies—nearly a quarter of all those examined by Medicare—that had inadequately reviewed or tracked medications for new patients.”
The article emphasizes that mistakes ultimately resulting in serious or life-threatening injuries to nursing home patients can happen at numerous different locations such as hospitals, pharmacies, and elder facilities. Many different parties can be implicated in injuries as well, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and nursing home staff.
It is important to remember that many nursing home neglect cases happen not because a facility has bad intentions, but rather in situations in which the facility is inadequately staffed or a mistake occurs for other reasons. If an elderly loved one recently suffered injuries resulting from poor transitional care, you may be able to file a nursing home neglect lawsuit. An experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer can speak with you about your options today. Contact the Walton Law Firm.
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(image courtesy of Coolcaesar)