A study released this week by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 1 out of every 3 patients who went to a nursing home after a hospital stay was harmed by their treatment.
Congress mandated the study to determine the national incidence rate for adverse events in hospitals. Beginning in 2008 and ending in 2012, physicians examined 653 patient records from more than 600 skilled nursing facilities where the patients had been receiving post-acute care for up to 35 days. What they found was that in 59 percent of the cases mistakes were made, 22 percent of those errors caused lasting harm and 11 percent caused temporary harm. In 1.5 percent of the cases, the harm caused contributed to the patient’s death.
In addition, more than half of those harmed by their care were readmitted to hospitals at an estimated annual cost of nearly $3 billion.
The study authors recommend that federal agencies raise awareness of nursing home safety, similar to the push they did for hospitals. In the meantime, family members of individuals going into a nursing home after a hospital stay should consider hiring a geriatric care manager. A geriatric care manager can investigate the nursing home’s safety record and help to reduce the chances that a loved one will experience harm during their stay. You can find a geriatric care manager by calling 1-877-76-AGING.