59% OF NURSING HOME RESIDENTS HARMED BY PREVENTABLE EVENTS
The Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services just released a Congressionally mandated “national report on nursing homes” identifying the incidence rate of “adverse events,” harm resulting from medical care, in skilled nursing facilities. The purpose of the report was to “identify adverse events, determine the extent to which events are preventable and measure the costs of events to the Medicare program.” The study was designed to shed light on patient safety in nursing homes, an up-until-now overlooked area of federal government inquiry.
According to the report, one third of patients studied that were discharged from hospitals to nursing homes were harmed by treatment administered to them in the skilled nursing facilities. Of those that were harmed, roughly 59% of the errors and injuries were PREVENTABLE. This is disturbing news for anyone who has a loved one in a nursing home or is in the process of searching for a nursing home, especially because most of these preventable events were identified by the deputy regional inspector general, Ruth Ann Dorrill as errors in “ordinary everyday care—lack of monitoring and paying attention” to residents. Simply put, nursing home administrators and nursing staff are overlooking standard health care practices that can be considered “Nursing 101.”
The damages caused to nursing home residents by preventable events extend beyond their physical health. Medical treatment has a price and for most nursing home residents the cost is billed to Medicare and/or Medicaid. The report found Medicare spends roughly $208 million dollars a year to cover hospitalization costs of nursing home residents who return to hospitals for treatment of preventable errors and adverse events. Approximately 60% of nursing home residents who experienced harm return to hospitals for such treatment.
Toby Edleman, an attorney for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, labeled most of the reported “adverse events” as “staffing issues.” She believes adding more staff to nursing homes could minimize the incident rate of preventable injuries and deaths. Still, adding more staff is not the solution to the problem if the staff is not being properly trained. Without providing or ensuring proper training, more staff would have little to no impact on preventing adverse events from happening. The report makes it clear that nursing homes across the country are not doing enough to guarantee quality care is given to their residents.
To read the full report produced by the US Department of Health and Human Services, click here.