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Skilled nursing facilities recently evaluated

Ohio residents who follow health news may be interested in a study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that analyzed 653 Medicare patient records chosen randomly from more than 600 skilled nursing facilities. According to the study, which only examined records from August 2011, 22 percent of the patients suffered long-term injuries and 11 percent suffered short-term harm. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of the events were preventable and more than 50 percent of the individuals re-hospitalized.

Hospitals frequently try to avoid long inpatient stays, leading to patients being released sooner and with acute problems. Skilled nursing facilities are necessary in many cases to care for these patients until they can return home or, if necessary, be placed in a long-term care facility. According to the study, errors in patient care occurred due to inadequate monitoring of patients as well as poor treatment and delayed care. Overall, 1.5 percent of patients surveyed died due to mismanagement at a skilled nursing facility, even if their prognoses were good.

The study went on to request changes in the way that Medicare regulates inspections by state agencies. Medicare spent less than $13 billion on skilled nursing facilities in 2000, but in 2010, this number doubled to $26 billion. In 2011, about 20 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients were sent to a skilled nursing facility. According to a Florida senator who is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, Medicare patients should not be exposed to poor care.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that nursing homes enact programs to monitor performance and quality assurance. An estimated 40 percent of Americans 65 years of age and older will spend some time in a nursing home. Advocates are hoping that the study will make the general public of the existence of both intentional and unintentional nursing home abuse.

Source: The Fiscal Times, “Wrongful Deaths, Injuries and Errors in U.S. Nursing Homes “, Marshall Allen, March 04, 2014