The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report last month investigating medical treatment and care in nursing homes across America. The full report can be viewed here. Specifically, the study focused on determining the national incidence rate for adverse and temporary harm events for Medicare beneficiaries admitted to skilled nursing facilities (SNF), such as nursing homes, for post-acute care. An “adverse event” was characterized in the study as any harm to a patient or resident resulting from medical treatment received by the resident or patient, and may include things like medical errors, negligence or substandard care provided by nursing home medical staff. “Temporary harm events” are described in the report as events that require intervention because they caused harm to the resident, but the harm does not last very long.
The results of the study are disconcerting because they support the conclusion that the rate of nursing home abuse and neglect is much too high. Three main categories of events emerged from the study: 1) events related to medication, 2) events related to resident care and 3) events related to infections.
Adverse Event Statistics
The report suggests that 22% of Medicare beneficiaries suffered from some sort of adverse event during the course of their post-acute care received while in the nursing home. The breakdown of that 22% was as follows:
Adverse events related to medication.
A striking 37% of adverse events experienced by residents in nursing facilities involved the improper administration or adverse side effects of medication. Adverse side effects included delirium or change in mental status (12%), instances of excessive bleeding due to improper administration of anticoagulants (5%), and constipation related to medication (4%).
Adverse events related to resident care.
Another 37% of adverse events experienced by residents in SNFs involved substandard care. Some examples of adverse substandard care include cases of resident dehydration (5%), instances of pre-existing conditions becoming exacerbated due to an omission of care (6%), and a lack of resident supervision and monitoring for residents resulted in accidental falls (6%) and circulatory problems (4%).
Adverse events related to infections.
Problems associated with infections accounted for 26% of the adverse events experienced by nursing home residents. The most frequent examples of infection-related problems include respiratory issues such as aspiration, pneumonia and other respiratory infections (10%), infections developing in wounds at surgical sites (5%), and urinary tract infections (3%).
Temporary Event Statistics
An additional 11% of nursing home residents suffered from some type of temporary harm. The breakdown of that 11% is as follows:
Temporary events related to medication.
The incident rate for temporary events experienced by residents in nursing facilities involving the improper administration or adverse side effects of medication was found to be 43%. Some examples of temporary side effects reported in the study include residents having hypoglycemic episodes (16%), accidental falls (9%) and yeast and other nonsurgical infections related to medication (4%).
Temporary events related to resident care.
Another 40% of temporary events experienced by residents in SNFs involved substandard care. The most common events include bedsores (19%), accidental falls (8%) and skin tears, abrasions or breakdowns (7%).
Temporary events related to infections.
Problems associated with infections accounted for 17% of the temporary events experienced by nursing home residents.
If you are concerned that a loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect while residing in a nursing home facility, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Rooth Law Firm either online or by phone at (800) 350-0646.
Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Adverse Events in Skilled Nursing Facilities: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries, Office of Inspector General, February 2014