Making the decision to place an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living center is often fraught with guilt and worry. That's understandable, since one-third of the residents and patients in skilled nursing facilities experience harm like infections and medication errors related to their treatment.
In one independent review of patient records, physicians found 59 percent of the injuries and errors were preventable. Over 50 percent of those patients who suffered harm were readmitted to hospitals as a result.
The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted a research study focusing on the quality of skilled nursing care. They followed patients for as long as 35 days after their discharge from acute care hospitals.
These doctors discovered that 22 percent of the discharged patients suffered adverse events causing lasting harm, with 11 percent suffering temporary harm. Sadly, 1.5 percent of patients succumbed due to the poor care they received even though their physicians had not anticipated their demise.
These deaths and injuries resulted from inadequate monitoring, delays, substandard treatment and failing to provide necessary treatment. The fatalities resulted from preventable issues that included:
- kidney failure
- blood clots
- excessive bleeding from anticoagulant drugs
- fluid imbalances
If your loved one is in a skilled nursing facility, you often have to take on the role of patient advocate if they are no longer able to advocate for themselves. If you see or suspect signs of abuse, neglect or other red flags, you might need to take legal action against the facility, its owners and managers, and the doctors and nurses providing substandard care.