Every year, thousands of patients are injured due to nursing home abuse in the form of medication errors, falls, infections, neglect and more. According to a recent U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) study, nearly 60% of the injuries suffered by nursing home residents are preventable injuries that cost billions of Medicare dollars. So, what’s going wrong and, more importantly, what can be done to prevent injuries?
That’s how one professional summed up what’s wrong with the nursing home industry when commenting on the March 2014 HHS report. In compiling the data, researchers looked at more than 650 Medicare beneficiaries who were admitted to a skilled-nursing facility in August 2011 and stayed for 35 days or less.
What they determined was that approximately 22% experienced serious injuries, an additional 11% experienced temporary injuries and 60% of all injuries (about 19,000) were preventable. Much of the harm was due to substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring and failure or delay of necessary care. Over half of the residents who experienced harm returned to a hospital for treatment, with an additional estimated cost to Medicare of $208 million in August 2011. This equates to $2.8 billion spent on hospital treatment for harm caused in skilled nursing facilities in FY 2011.
The authors say that a national discussion of how to reduce the number of nursing home injuries is needed. They recommended that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) raise awareness about nursing home safety and reduce resident harm by:
Many consumer advocate groups agree with their assessment and say that there is a lack of data surrounding the harmful events that occur in nursing home facilities. Sadly, one of the key reasons for a lack of data is due to patients either not reporting adverse events or feeling afraid to speak up.
Elder abuse and neglect come in many forms, some of which are difficult to recognize unless you look for them – especially with mentally impaired patients. Common indicators of abuse or neglect include:
If your loved one has been injured due to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can review the situation, analyze your legal options and, most importantly, take swift action to make sure that your loved one is safe.