Late last month, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new report about the safety of patients in skilled nursing homes. The study included the care of 653 Medicare patients in 600 different nursing home facilities.
Approximately One in Three Nursing Home Patients Is Harmed by Treatment
That is what the study found: One third of nursing home patients are allegedly hurt by the treatment that they receive. Often the harm occurs because of medication errors, medical mistakes, and infections. More specifically, the study found that:
- Almost 60 percent of these cases are preventable.
- More than 50 percent of these cases require patients to go into the hospital or into another facility.
- Approximately 1.5 percent of patients die because of the harm they suffer.
If we are to consider just the single month in which this study was completed, August 2011, that would mean that approximately 22,000 nursing home patients suffered harm and that about 1,500 died as a result of that harm, according to AARP. It is also estimated that these nursing home mistakes cost at least $2.8 billion a year in medical expenses.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says that it is preparing better training for nursing home doctors. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act will require nursing homes to report safety data to the government. At this time it is just not known whether this will prevent future patient harm in nursing homes.
We extend our best wishes for full and complete recoveries to anyone who has been injured in a Kentucky nursing home and our sincere condolences to the families mourning the deaths of anyone who died too soon.