You may have a loved one who is in the care of a nursing home. A nursing home is there to provide the care and attention your family member needs; however, sometimes unfortunate events can happen to your loved one leaving them seriously injured. If nursing home abuse or neglect occurs, this can be devastating not only for your loved one, but your family as well.
However, many incidents of nursing home neglect can be prevented. Often nursing home residents end up at the emergency room with injuries that could have been prevented. According to the CDC, as of 2014 there were 15,600 nursing homes in the U.S. with 1.7 million licensed beds. That’s an extremely large number of residents to care for, and neglect happens.
A study from the CDC shows that eight percent of nursing home residents had an emergency room visits in the past 90 days. Of that amount 15 percent had two or more visits. Furthermore, according to the study of those who went to the ER, 40 percent had a potentially preventable ER visit. Of the injuries that could have been prevented, 36% were from injuries from falls, 19% from heart conditions, 12% from pneumonia, and 33% from other conditions (including fever, mental status change, gastrointestinal bleeding, urinary tract infections, metabolic disturbances, and diseases of the skin.)
The findings suggest that many of these ER visits could have been prevented with better nursing staffing levels. More professional staffing would increase the facilities’ ability to treat medical needs on-site rather than require an emergency room visit or stay. More staffing will allow for nurses to catch incidents and injuries prior to exacerbation and the need for additional medical assistance. Furthermore, more attention by nursing staff can prevent falls, and thereby injuries sustained from these falls. Greater staffing will allow for the right professional to answer call bells more quickly and efficiently to address residents’ needs. This will prevent residents from trying to get up, let’s say to use the bathroom on their own, and ending up falling.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from a 2001 study, more than 97% of facilities failed to have sufficient staff to meet one or more federal staffing requirements and to prevent avoidable harm to residents. Most injuries can be prevented if a facility administers appropriate care.
There are other preventable injuries in addition to the common ones mentioned above. Preventable injuries include:
- Injuries from falls
- Bedsores, skin diseases or similar infections
- Sexual/physical assault or abuse
- Severe malnutrition and/or dehydration
- Transfer, gait assist or wheelchair-related injuries
- Medication errors
In a single year, 25% of nursing homes are cited for causing death or serious injury. These injuries listed above can be prevented, and a nursing home providing proper care and being properly staffed should not allow for these injuries to occur.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Accidents do happen, we understand that. However, there are signs of abuse and neglect that you should be aware of so that your loved one does not go through any further trauma, and so that further preventable injuries do not occur. Signs of abuse or neglect include:
- Broken bones
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Repeated visits to the emergency room
- Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of medical aids
- Lack of assistance or staff inattention
- Inconsistencies in financial habits
- Missing personal belongings
To ensure situations of abuse or neglect do not occur, act as an advocate on behalf of your loved one. Many times our elderly family member is no longer able to completely fend or fight for him or herself. Be that person for your loved one. Remember, many nursing home injuries can be prevented; no one should be a victim.
If this blog was helpful, you may also be interested in the following:
- Colorado Enacts Mandatory Reporting Laws for Elder Abuse
- What You Need to Know About the Federal Nursing Home Act
- As Population Ages, Costs to Care Rise
- How Good is Your Nursing Home?