March 2012 Archives

Disturbing Nursing Home Statistics

March 26, 2012

Thumbnail image for 65899_hospital_bed_2 sxchu.jpgAccording to a report by Masters in Health Care, there are some very disturbing statistics about the long term care facilities that many of our friends, relatives, family members and loved ones call home.

Among the shocking facts revealed are the following:

• Over 30% of nursing homes have had some form of elder abuse either by the staff or other residents, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect and malnutrition.
• In 2005, nearly 92% of all nursing homes received at least one citation for a deficiency.
• Approximately 90% of the time when there is some form of abuse, it is done by the staff, other residents or non-strangers.
• In 1999 there were 5,000 death certificates for nursing home patients that listed the cause of death to be dehydration, bed sores and food deprivation.
• Most nursing home abuse cases never end up being because of the declining mental capacities of the patients and the failure to detect it by the staff members or the patient's family.
• Over 50% of all nursing home patients have no close family to watch out for nursing home neglect or abuse.
• Many times a nurse's aide or other staff member may be called upon to care for as many as 30 patients.
• Approximately 30% of all nursing home patients are overmedicated with tranquilizers.
• Approximately 92% of all nursing homes have at least one staff member who has a criminal background.
• With the aging of America, there are not enough nursing home beds to keep up with the growing need for long term care facilities.
• In 2007, there were nearly 258,000 complaints registered against nursing homes for an average of 20 for each.
• In 2001, one out of four nursing homes received a citation for serious injury or death of a patient.
• The cost of living in a nursing home continues to rise. In 2003, the average annual cost was $66,000 but by 2021 it is expected to be $175,000.

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Bed Sores Are a Common Sign of Nursing Home Neglect

March 8, 2012

grandmother.jpgAs more and more Californians reach their Golden Years, many face the horror of dealing with neglect in their long term care facilities such as nursing homes. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the growth of the elderly (age 60 and over) in California is expected to be twice as fast as the total population and the oldest group (age 85 and over) is projected to increase faster than that. This means increasing numbers of the elderly will end up being placed in nursing homes.

While many long term care facilities provide excellent care, others subject their patients to some form of neglect or elder abuse. Some of the most common signs of neglect or elder abuse are dehydration, loss of appetite, pressure (bed) sores, bruises, broken bones and markings from restraints, among other things. The California Welfare & Institutions Code, Section 15610.57, addresses "neglect" in part by saying that it is the negligent failure to exercise the degree of care a reasonable person would have exercised had they had the care and custody of an elderly person. This would include the failure to protect that person from dehydration, bed sores, falls, other injuries caused by safety or health hazards and any type of injury that does not fit the explanation provided by the staff.

Under California law, many are charged with the duty to report indications of elder abuse to the Adult Protective Service Agency (APS) in every county, including doctors and other medical professionals, employees of nursing homes and others who care for the elderly. Unfortunately, this law is not apt to be followed by the nursing home staff or physicians whose neglect might have led to the injuries. For example, bed sores are caused by pressure against the skin that reduces the blood supply causing ulcers and ultimately death of the tissue. These usually are found on the back area, the tailbone, shoulders, hips, elbows and heels but are preventable by providing padding with pillows or foam support pads, frequent changing of the patient's position, sheepskin and powdered sheets. Likewise, falls and other preventable injuries are often covered up by writing an incident report and doctoring records. Since elders in nursing homes are essentially isolated from the outside world and often have reduced mental capacity, they are easily manipulated to believe what they are told. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for family members, relatives, visitors and others to make note of any warning signs of neglect or abuse of their friends or loved ones in nursing homes.

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