New Study Shows Hospitalizations Increase after Temporary Nursing Home Stays

Staffing Critical in Nursing Home CareGreenville, SC- Nursing homes are not just for the elderly who require intensive one-on-one care, these facilities are often used for Medicare recipients and hospital patients who need rehabilitative services. But a new study showed that Medicare beneficiaries require additional emergency room visits and hospitalizations within 30 to 90 days after being released from a nursing home.

The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill school of nursing. Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill in conjunction with Duke University evaluated 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries treated at skilled nursing facilities in North and South Carolina. They found 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries required an emergency room visit within 30 days and 39 percent required acute care within in 90 days.

“Nearly two million older adults use this benefit every year,” said assistant professor Mark Toles, the first author of the study. “Before this study, we didn’t recognize the large number of older adults who require additional acute care after they’re discharged from a nursing home.”

Additionally, Toles and the other researchers found that race, gender and diagnosis also have an effect on whether Medicare beneficiaries required additional emergency care or hospitalization. Men and African-Americans were more likely to require additional care after being released from a nursing home along with patients who suffer from cancer and respiratory illnesses. Other factors that required a need for additional acute care included the beneficiaries’ number of previous hospitalizations, comorbid conditions, and getting care from a for-profit facility, Medical Express reported.

As cost-control measure, the Affordable Care Act requires hospitals improve their patient outcomes and reduce re-hospitalizations or they face penalties. The researchers suggested that this study should compel nursing homes to seek ways they can improve outcomes for temporary residents who require acute care.

“The role of nursing homes in communities has changed,” Toles said. “These facilities are increasingly dedicated to transitioning older adults from the hospital back to their own homes. Short-term use of nursing facilities has grown tremendously over the past ten years and we have to examine interventions that will improve that transition.”

A temporary resident of a nursing home is just as vulnerable to abuse and neglect as a permanent resident. Take for instance an incident that took place in Long Island nursing home last year.

A patient, Ariel Rios, has just suffered a bout of serious pneumonia and was sent to a nursing home for several weeks until she was well enough to return home. Rios required the use of a ventilator so she was sent to the nursing home so she could be monitored around the clock.

One night shortly after arriving at the home, Rios’ ventilator somehow came unhooked and set off an alarm. Employees at the nursing home ignored the alarm for two or more hours and Rios eventually died. The employees who ignored the alarm of Rios’ ventilator was recently arrested and charged.

Nursing homes have a duty to protect all their residents, temporary or permanent, and when they fail to do so a South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney can help the victims and their families get the compensation for their pain and suffering.