This may be an older post from our website, but is definitely worth another look! As you may know, not all nursing homes are all created equal. In addition to having private or government-run facilities, nursing homes can either be accredited or not. Sometimes the differences between the different types of facilities are not immediately clear, but you should research all possible options before making a decision.
The nursing home industry is one that is experiencing growth right now, since many aging Americans from the "baby boom" generation are beginning to retire and some decide to enter into nursing homes and assisted living facilities. With the boom in patients, nursing home are either hiring more attendants or giving attendants longer work hours. Unfortunately, nursing homes also have a high turnover rate for employees.
Nursing homes are a pretty ubiquitous feature of most cities and populated areas. Although many people know generally what nursing homes are like and what features they have, some do not know the many varieties within these facilities. All nursing homes are not created equal and there is a wide variance in layout, amenities, features, and programs.
When an elderly person is admitted to a nursing home, there are several periods of time that are higher-risk for injury than other periods. This phenomenon has been studied and documented by numerous researchers. One study by Doupe et. al. (2011) titled "Nursing Home Adverse Events: Further Insight to Highest Risk Periods" talked about some of these situations. For example, some of the highest-risk periods including the following times and situations:-New residents account for a disproportionately high percentage of nonhip fractures and bedsores
-Hospitalized falls, hip fractures, and respiratory infections are most common immediately before resident death
-Skin ulcers are most likely for new nursing home residents coming from a hospital; this is independent of mobility All in all, transition periods, either just being admitted to a nursing home or in the late stages of life immediately preceding death, are the high-risk periods for nursing home residents. New nursing home residents transferred from hospitals pose an even higher risk for some conditions. Applying this knowledge, if someone you know has been recently admitted into a nursing home, the first three months are critical to monitor for any changing conditions or health issues. If you feel that your loved one needs more care than they are currently being given by the nursing home staff, you may need to discuss changes in your relative's individualized care plan.
In the past few years, there has been some backlash against personal injury attorneys and their lawsuits against nursing homes and hospitals. One such article, written in a large healthcare magazine, even went so far as to suggest that some attorneys use understaffing of workers as an excuse to create lawsuits for cases that would not otherwise be valid. These same writers are arguing for tort reform, which would also put a cap on awards for injury or negligence. They argue that, if there was a cap on awards in the state of Pennsylvania, there would be fewer legal claims and nursing homes may be able to use more workers. They also noted that arbitration decreases the projected expense and awards of cases.
Recently, a Philadelphia-area nursing home is under fire for supposedly contributing to a wrongful death case. The death, which is thought to be due negligence on the part of the nursing home staff, came after a series of illnesses which affected an elderly woman in the home's case. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that the resident needed 24 hour care, due to a history of trouble walking, dementia, and other issues. However, she was still was often found on her floor in her bedroom of the nursing home unattended, and it was clear that she had fallen. Eventually, the resident had a fall that was so severe that she had to go to the emergency room. Upon returning to the nursing home, she was placed in hospice care and passed away about two months after her accident.
It is not uncommon for elderly nursing home residents to be in poor health or in need of medical assistance. In some of these situations, an emergency room visit may be essential for that patient. However, an emergency room visit may also lead to infection in the nursing home later on.
Sometimes, audits bring up things you would never believe. According to TribLive.com, an auditor for the Pennsylvania Department of Health discovered that the department refused to accept anonymous complaints against nursing homes for almost three years. Halting these complaints violates federal policy, and also potentially puts many elderly residents into harm's way. There was no rationale discovered for halting these reports. According to the TribLive article, "Complaints increased 63 percent after the agency rescinded the policy of not accepting anonymous complaints, the audit said." Many other interesting facts were discovered in the audit, including not enforcing certain laws requiring a set number of direct nursing services for residents each day.
The possibility that a resident of a nursing home may fall is a very real, serious danger. Every year approximately 1,800 senior citizens living in nursing homes die from fall-related injuries. To illustrate this point a little further, the CDC has compiled numbers that are shocking, to say the least. Only about 5% of adults 65 or older live in a nursing home, but nursing home residents account for about 20% of deaths from falls in this age group. A resident in a nursing home typically falls more than once, with the average resident having about 2.6 falls per year.