According to a report released by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, roughly one-third of nursing home patients released from hospitals were harmed by their caregivers. National Public Radio further reports that most of the harms result from neglect and errors in judgment.
In 2008, one nursing home resident died, Mr. Caldwell, in a Dallas-area nursing facility from complications exacerbated by the lack of ordinary care of an attending nurse. The family recalls the event vividly: A nurse forced medicine down the feeding tube and into the lungs of Mr. Caldwell, which led to him choking to death. Incidents like this may are easily avoid if the caregivers simply taken appropriate measures to ensure the quality of their work.
As unique as injuries such as Mr. Caldwell’s may appear, thousands of related incidents happen each year. The effects that these injuries have on Medicare are staggering. Each year Medicare is accountable for roughly $2.8 billion in hospital fees resulting from injuries suffered by nursing home residents. NPR also reported that many state officials attribute the high rate of nursing home injuries to a lack of monitoring and delays in necessary care. Many of the serious injuries come from minor conditions that go unattended for extended periods of time.
The Office of the Inspector General’s new report sheds light on what has been known for decades by those practicing medical malpractice and those whose family members have spent time in nursing homes.
This newfound attention, though, has prompted many nursing homes to claim that they have established initiatives that will ensure that their residents are properly cared for. The jury is still out.