National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported on the disturbing findings of a study that found a third of nursing home patients are harmed by treatment. A report, released by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that most of those cases could have been prevented. Around 60 percent of nursing home patients who were harmed by treatment ended up back in the hospital as a result. These hospital stays are estimated to cost Medicare about $2.8 billion each year. That doesn’t include additional nursing home stays, doctor visits or treatments. That just reflects hospital stays related to the initial harmful treatment.
What’s Happening in Nursing Homes
For the most part, errors in treatment are happening during everyday ordinary care. The article reports that a common example of a harmful treatment happening in nursing homes is giving a patient who is already on an anticoagulant an additional anticoagulant which can lead to a fatal bleeding episode. A lack of proper monitoring and care providers not paying attention have been cited as two reasons for the harmful treatment going on in nursing homes.
Another big problem for nursing care facilities is that they are typically understaffed. Individualized treatment is a necessity for elderly patients in nursing homes, so adequate staffing needs to be a top priority. With elderly patients, ordinary details need to be addressed accurately on a daily basis. Patients who are already in a fragile physical state and on various medications need the utmost attention to detail in their care.
If Your Loved One is Harmed by Care in a Nursing Home
If one of your loved ones is the victim of harmful treatment in a nursing home, you should consult with an attorney. Nursing homes and assisted care facilities have a duty to administer the correct care and treatment to their patients. Just like in any other hospital or clinic, negligence on the part of a professional can lead to injuries or death. You’re putting your trust in a facility’s ability to take good care of your loved one, and that trust shouldn’t be violated. Since the report mentioned in the NPR article reflected care from 2011 to 2012, we can only hope that standards have changed and fewer patients are being harmed by care. Nobody in a nursing home deserves to be harmed during any kind of treatment, procedure or medication protocol, let alone a third of all patients.