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Federal Study Shows Significant Problem With Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

The problem of inadequate staffing and negligent care in nursing homes in the United States is a growing concern. Due to the increase in the number of reports of nursing home abuse and neglect costing the US Taxpayers over $2.8 billion a year in treating patients that incurred injuries and harm arising from neglect in nursing homes, Congress required the US Department of Health and Human Services to study the problem. Recently, the US Department of Health and Human Resources published a study looking into the problem of Medicare beneficiaries being reported as suffering from harm associated with being caused as a result of stays in a skilled nursing facility for post-acute care after being discharged from a hospital. The results are shocking

Of those Medicare beneficiaries studied, approximately more than 1 out of 5 patients (22%) were reported as having incurred harm as a result of medical care they purportedly received after being admitted to a skilled nursing home following a discharge from a hospital for post-acute care. Another additional 11% of Medicare beneficiaries sustained a temporary harm event during their stay at the skilled nursing facility.

Of those Medicare beneficiaries studied, all of them stayed at a skilled nursing facility for 35 days or less. The physicians who reviewed the data from the studies concluded that 59% of the adverse events were clearly or likely preventable. The cause of much of the preventable harm was due to substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring and failure or delay in necessary care. Over half of the residents who experienced harm were required to return to the hospital for treatment with an estimated caose of $208 million in August, 2011. This resulted in approximately $2.8 billion spend on hospital treatment for injuries caused by stays in skilled nursing facilities in 2011.

The study also estimated that 21,777 Medicare funded patients at skilled nursing facilities experienced at least one adverse event during their stay that ended in August, 2011. Approximately 2.6% experienced more than one adverse event and a few having as many as three events during a single stay at a skilled nursing facility. Of course, the study was limited to only Medicare beneficiaries, so we can conclude that the overall population of those suffering from adverse events in nursing homes to be significantly higher than those reported.

The study also projected that 1,538 residents of skilled nursing facilities that an adverse event contributed to their death during the study month bring the annual estimate to 18,634. Said adverse events or harms ere divided into three clinical categories namely: (1) blood-clots including deep vein thrombosis (DVT), fluid imbalances and acute kidney failure. Medication events included excessive bleeding due to anticoagulants and acute hypoglycemia.

Another study indicates that there are currently 1.4 million people living in nursing homes in the United States, and approximately 90% of the nursing homes in the United States have staffing levels too low to provide adequate care to the residents living therein. Moreover, 36% percent of all nursing homes in the United States were found to be in violation of Elderly Abuse laws (and by "elderly" being defined as a person of 60 years of age or older).

Inadequate care in nursing home facilities is a growing problem for our elderly. Nursing homes that refuse to staff their facilities with adequate staffing should be held accountable for those who suffer adverse consequences and conditions. Being aware of the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect can help identify victims to have them relocated to another facility or home.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse or neglect attorney. Boise Personal Injury Trial Attorney Alan Morton has over 32 years of personal experience in helping victims of abuse or negligence seek compensation for their injuries or losses. You may reach Mr. Morton by calling 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.866.8021 or by completing our online contact form. Call or contact Mr. Morton right now! He would be happy to schedule an initial free consultation to help you better understand your legal rights and remedies.


Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer