Federal Study Shows One-Third of Nursing Home Residents are Injured

Nursing Home CareDenver, CO- A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that close to one-third of residents in nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities are harmed by medical errors. During just one month period thousands of residents of long-term care facilities were injured and over a thousand were killed as the result of a medication error, infection, neglect or other preventable errors.

Some medical patients require more intensive care once they are released from the hospital and often go into a skilled nursing facility for that care. Many patients will have to stay in these facilities for a brief period, one to three months. But many patients experience harm or injury in their temporary

Between 2008 and 2012, the DHHS analyzed the medical records of Medicare beneficiaries to determine how often they were harmed in skilled nursing facilities of which 90 percent also serve as nursing homes. They found that during a 30 day period, 21,777 patients were injured and 1,538 patients were killed as a result of their stay in a skilled nursing facility.

Of those incidents, doctors who analyzed patient records determined that in 69 percent of incidents, the injuries or deaths were preventable. They also found that 22 percent of incidents caused lasting harm to the patient while 11 percent experienced temporary harm. One and half percent of patient’s died in nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities.

Sixty-six percent of adverse or harmful incidents involved medication errors, 57 percent involved resident care issues and an additional 52 involved infections.

The injuries were caused by medication errors, inadequate care and delays in giving a patient the care they need. Fatal incidents were attributed to preventable blood clots, excessive bleeding from blood thinning medications and kidney failure according to ProPublica.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging told ProPublica that Medicare patients “deserve better.” “This report paints a troubling picture of the care that’s being provided in some of our nation’s nursing homes,” he said. He is calling for better inspections at nursing homes across the country.

The additional harm and unnecessary deaths at nursing homes is not only a social problem, but it is also an economic problem. The study estimates that these harmful incidents and deaths cost the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services over $200 million dollars annually.

Experts in the long term care industry did not dispute the study’s findings but pointed out that researchers used a small patient sample. They also said that the small reimbursements facilities receive from Medicare play a role in the quality of care each patient receives.

Nursing homes regardless of how much they are reimbursed have the responsibility to make certain their residents are safe and protected from harm or death. When they are derelict in this duty, a facility can be held accountable. A Denver nursing home abuse attorney can help those who are abused or those who have lost a loved one get the compensation they deserve.