More than 20 percent of Medicare patients experienced a poor medical outcome or injury during a post-hospital skilled nursing facility stay, according to a recent governmental report. The 2014 study by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General analyzed patient injuries from nursing visits in 2011, finding that the majority of outcomes were preventable.
The OIG evaluated a random sample of 655 Medicare beneficiaries who stayed in skilled nursing facilities for 35 days or less in 2011, following a hospital discharge. Researchers found 22 percent of the patients were injured or suffered a negative outcome at the nursing facility. Patient harm primarily stemmed from substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring and failure or delay of necessary care.
The most common patient injuries at nursing homes were related to medication, such as excessive bleeding due or falls because of medication effects. Worsening of preexisting conditions because of care omissions also frequently occurred. Infections were another top patient injury. These included respiratory infections, surgical site infections associated with wound care and urinary tract infections associated with catheter care. In nearly 80 percent of the cases, patients had to stay longer in the nursing home because of the injury or be re-hospitalized. In 14 percent of cases, the harm required emergency intervention to save the patient’s life. In 6 percent of cases, the injury led to the patient’s death.
The OIG recommends that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) raise awareness of nursing home safety reduce resident harm through promotion of hospital safety efforts. This includes collaborating to create and promote a list of potential nursing home events and to help nursing home staff better recognize harm.
To prevent you or a loved one from experiencing nursing home injuries during a facility stay, experts recommend researching the institution thoroughly, inquiring about safety violations and evaluating basic facility standards. If you are aware of nursing home patient abuse or have safety concerns, contact the adult protective services agency in your state or call your local Medicare division.