Liz Nutt at Insurancequotes.org wanted to share a post about insurance and finance, called 7 Health Issues Men Over the Age of 40 Shouldn’t Ignore.

1.  High Blood Pressure–High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to serious health problems including stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.

2.  Diabetes–Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, is most common in people over the age of 40. This type of diabetes can lead to kidney or eye problems.

3.  High Cholesterol–Hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol can lead to the hardening of arteries, heart disease, and even stroke.

4.  Depression–The National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 6 million men have depression each year. Symptoms of depression are often erroneously and derogatorily described as evidence of a “mid-life crisis,” rather than indicators of a serious health issue.

5.  Lung Cancer–The number of new lung cancer cases has dropped steadily since the 1980s, no doubt due in part to the Surgeon General’s 1964 report on smoking and health. But lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in both men and women, more than prostate, colon, and breast cancer combined!

6.  Prostate Cancer–After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men.

7.  Impotence–Men can experience varying degrees of impotence or erectile dysfunction as they get older. Many of the health issues we discussed can contribute to impotence, including unmanaged diabetes, obesity, smoking, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease.

Kaiser Health News reported a new study from the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.  The study shows that there is “virtually no correlation between hospital [CEO] pay and either quality or cost” at nonprofit health systems.  Instead, the CEOs’ compensation packages correlated closely with the size of the institutions they ran, not the quality of the care provided. The bigger the system, the more the CEO generally made.

“Given these hospitals exist to provide quality health care and are required to provide community benefit and charitable care in light of their non-profit status, the lack of such a correlation is a significant concern,” New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney said in a prepared statement. The New Hampshire Department of Justice regulates the state’s nonprofit sector.

The study found “a weak relationship” between CEO compensation and the amount of charity care a hospital provided.  The researchers also found that pay for the average New Hampshire hospital CEO has risen faster in recent years — up 18 percent from 2006 through 2009 — than compensation for the average private-sector worker or the average health care worker.

 

McKnight’s Long Term Care News reported on a new survey that shows the cost of living in a long-term care facility increased steadily over the last year while home care costs have stayed flat.  The daily cost for a semi-private skilled nursing facility room grew 3.4% since 2011 to a national median rate of $200 per day, according to a survey conducted by the long-term care insurer Genworth Financial.  The rate for a private SNF room jumped 4.2% since 2011, up to a median daily rate of $222. Assisted living rates saw modest growth at 1.2% since 2011, to a median monthly rate of $3,300.
 

A nursing home in Oklahoma is at the center of a drug ring involving residents’ prescription medications.  Director of Nursing Jackie Allen Alexander and Melanie A. Kirby, the assistant director of nursing were arrested on charges for multiple counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud or forgery, conspiracy to obtain and conspiracy to distribute.  Prosecutors have filed drug-related charges against six employees at Callaway Nursing Home. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics says the employees are accused of calling in fraudulent prescriptions to pharmacies to obtain painkillers, including hydrocodone.  The drugs were later sold on the street.

An audit showed more than 9,000 dosage units of controlled substances had been diverted by employees, said Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman. More than 8,400 of the dosage units involved the pain medication hydrocodone.

See articles here, here, and here.

Today I will discuss a couple of articles I recently read about the growing problem of abuse and neglect in Kentucky nursing homes.  Instead of preventing abuse and neglect and providing good quality care, the nursing home industry is blaming litigation and asking for immunity and arbitrary caps on damages.

The first article is from the Lexington Herald-Leader talking about the increase in abuse and neglect in Kentucky nursing homes. Abuse and neglect probably occurred in 583 investigations.  In 2011, substantiated abuse and neglect rose to 28% of all investigations.  It was 18% in 2010.   The number of cases investigated went up 2.1 percent from 2010 to 2011, but the number of substantiated cases went up 58.4 percent.  That is quite an increase.

This is the second year that the report has included statistics on state investigations of alleged abuse in long-term care centers.The report is a joint venture of the Cabinet and the Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee. A discussion of the 2011 report is on the agenda of the Elder Abuse Committee’s September meeting in Frankfort. The committee includes representatives of state agencies, industry groups and advocates.The elder abuse committee, which is required to meet by law, had languished in recent years. It was revitalized as one of 20 recommendations Beshear issued.

An article from the Richmond Register discusses the cases of abuse and neglect against national for-profit chain Extendicare.   After siphoning funds away from care and causing residents’ harm,
Extendicare announced in May that it planned on leasing all 21 of its Kentucky nursing homes to “an experienced third-party, long-term care operator based in Texas,” according to a company news release.   They refuse to say which shell company they are going to lease it to.  Of course, Extendicare blames litigation and lawyers for their exit instead of their own poor care caused by corporate decisions and shortcuts.

"Since the beginning of this year, five wrongful death suits and one negligent care suit have been filed against Extendicare in the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s office.
They are:
• Sandra Baumgardner, administratrix of the estate of Ethel E. Rains, stated in her complaint that Rains was admitted Sept. 4, 2009, to Kenwood, and she died March 25, 2011. The complaint alleges Rains suffered pressure ulcers, multiple infections, falls with injuries, severe dehydration, extreme weight fluctuation, malnutrition, poor hygiene and death.
• Carol Dooly, administratrix of the estate of Donna Meeks, said in her complaint that Meeks died in December 2011 after staying at Kenwood. The complaint alleges that Meeks suffered accelerated deterioration of her health because of negligent care, including a significant delay in treating a hip fracture, dehydration, medication errors, compromised nutrition and weight loss.
• Mary E. Davis, executrix of the estate of James E. Davis, alleged in her complaint that after Davis was admitted Aug. 15 to Kenwood for a short-term stay following a fall at home, his health quickly worsened.
“While there, the doctor’s orders were not followed, and he suffered significant weight loss and a urinalysis performed on or about Aug. 19 revealed a severe untreated urinary tract infection,” the complaint states.
After 18 days at the facility, the family became alarmed by his declining mental and physical condition, and over staff protests, insisted that Davis be transferred to Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center’s emergency room, the complaint said.
At the ER, Davis was diagnosed with urosepsis, dehydration and acute renal failure, the complaint stated. Davis was placed in intensive care, and he died 43 days later.
• Yvonne Sams, executrix of the estate of William Witt, alleged in her complaint that Witt was admitted May 20, 2011, to Kenwood. He was taken to St. Joseph Berea for treatment July 11, 2011 and died July 14, according to the complaint.
Witt suffered accelerated deterioration of his health due to negligence including bruises, skin tears, weight loss, urinary tract infections, aspiration pneumonia and death, the complaint stated.
• Gary Newby, administrator of the estate of Nora E. Chapple, stated in his complaint that Chapple was admitted June 2, 2011, to Kenwood and died Aug. 15. While there, Chapple suffered bruises, pressure ulcers, falls, weight loss, urinary tract infections, overmedication and death, according to the complaint.
• Charlie Nichols stated in his complaint that since becoming a resident of Kenwood on Dec. 13, 2011, he has suffered from pressure ulcers, amputation of his left leg below his knee, skin abrasions, falls, weight loss, infections of pressure ulcers, cellulitis, urinary tract infections and poor hygiene.

In 2011, 10 civil suits were filed against Extendicare in Madison County, and two were filed in 2010, according to the Court of Justice website.   In the counties where Extendicare has operated nursing homes, there are currently at least 43 civil lawsuits pending against the company, all filed since 2009, according to the Court of Justice database.

So what is the answer?  I say increase staffing and provide better care if you don’t want to be sued.
Michael Tremoglie of Legal NewsLine thinks that tort reform will somehow protect residents and improve the quality of care based on his misinterpretation of a study in published in the March 31, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine indicates that it does not. The study’s authors – David M. Studdert, Matthew J. Spittal, Michelle M. Mello, James O’Malley and David G. Stevenson – studied, as the title indicated, the "Relationship between Quality of Care and Negligence Litigation in Nursing Homes."

How?  He doesn’t explain that part.

The website Counsel & Heal reported a new study about the dangers of falls for newly admitted nursing home residents.  Nursing homes should be aware of this study and watch new residents carefully to prevent falls.  The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  Falls occur because the patients are in a new environment – unfamiliar to staff, identification and management, and lack of adequate staffing.

Of the more than 230,000 patients in almost 10,000 nursing homes in the United States, researchers from the University of Southern California and Brown University found that 21% of newly admitted nursing home residents sustained at least one fall during their first 30 days in the facility.

Staffing is important in decreasing the risk of falls. According to researchers, nursing homes with higher certified nursing assistants-to-patients ratio saw fewer falls "because CNAs provide much of the hands-on patient care during high-risk activities such as toileting, dressing, and ambulation."

Lead author Natalie Leland, a research gerontologist and occupational therapist at the University of Southern California, explains "A fall can delay or permanently prevent the patient from returning to the community, and identifying risk of falling is essential for implementing fall prevention strategies and facilitating successful discharge back to the community."
 

For the average person a hospital stay is, at best, uncomfortable but for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia a visit to the hospital can be incredibly traumatic.  Imagine being confined to a hospital bed and not being able to remember where you are or why you are there.  Recently both Boston.com and The Hour published interesting articles based on a Harvard study that found hospital stays for an Alzheimer’s patient increases the chances of being moved to a nursing home or even dying within the year.

These findings came from a recent research study conducted by Harvard University.  The study also discovered that experiencing delirium, a heightened state of mental confusion and irritation, during one’s stay will further increase the risks associated with the hospital stay.  The study found that for elderly patients without Alzheimer’s who were hospitalized, four percent were admitted into a nursing home and two percent died within the year.  For those with Alzheimer’s, these numbers jump to a staggering 29 percent nursing home admittance rate and nine percent death rate. Additionally, those with the disease that also suffered delirium face a 43 percent rate of nursing home admission and 15 percent death rate.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s patients are more likely than other seniors to be hospitalized. These hospitalizations are frequently not a result of the disease itself but due to health problems that the disease exasperates.  Patients with Alzheimer’s have a harder time managing chronic health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure and also have difficulty articulating their problems.  This means that conditions such as an Unitary Tract Infection or dehydration are normally very progressed before they are caught and treated.

The detrimental effects of a hospital stay and the heightened risk of illness caused by the disease make it extremely important that nursing homes with Alzheimer’s patients do everything in their power to keep their residents healthy and out of the hospital.  This means continually monitoring residents for a change of condition or symptoms that could indicate a problem so issues can receive early treatment and hospitalization can be avoided.
 

The lack of medical coverage in America is a serious problem as approximately 50 million people were uninsured all through 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, once implemented in its entirety, is expected to cover 30 million Americans currently lacking coverage.  The lack of medical insurance has had fatal consequences for individuals and the nation. In 2010 alone, 26,100 people died because they had no health insurance — that amounts to 502 preventable deaths a week.  Based on the latest report by Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 people due to a lack of insurance.  Of course, South Carolina ranked fourth.

 

4. South Carolina
• Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 13.48
• Percent of population uninsured: 17.5 percent (tied for 12th highest)
• Percent living below the poverty line: 18.2 percent (seventh highest)
• Life expectancy at birth: 76.57 years (ninth lowest)

South Carolina is not a particularly healthy state: 67.4 percent of the state’s residents are either overweight or obese, just 23.3 percent eat proper amounts of fruit, only 22.9 percent eat proper amounts of vegetables and 10.7 percent are diabetic. All of these are among the highest rates in the country.

Meanwhile, much of the cost of health care falls to private individuals. The state spent about $6,300 per person on health care in 2009, among the lowest levels, and just 51.9 percent of residents have employer-based health coverage. Unfortunately, South Carolinians have trouble affording insurance on their own: Median income was just $42,000 in 2010, significantly lower than the $50,000 national average, 18.2 percent of residents live below the poverty line and the cost of health care is higher than is the case in many states.

 

South Carolina is one of the most conservative places in America.  Most of the people don’t vote but the ones that do are Republicans.  They hate ObamaCare despite not knowing what is in the law.  I ran across an interesting website that shows current protections against insurance abuse.  South Carolina was the worst. 

Young adults cannot access health insurance through a parent’s plan up to age 26 in S.C.

In S.C., a health insurance plan can refuse to cover my child because of a pre-existing condition.

My health insurance plan can drop me if I get sick in S.C.  (Isn’t that the point of having insurance?)

My health plan will not cover me for preventative care without charging me a co-pay in S.C.

Women’s birth control is not covered on the same basis as a man’s reproductive health care in S.C.

In S.C., my health care plan can stop paying for treatment mid-year because of annual or lifetime dollar limits.

In S.C., I cannot choose my primary care doctor or my pediatrician.

I cannot receive emergency treatment in S.C. without calling my insurance company for approval.

We need ObamaCare in South Carolina to change the ongoing health insurance abuse.

Rhode Island’s NBC 10 news station reported that Herbert Nursing Home in Smithfield is facing a lawsuit brought by three former employees.  A nurse and two certified nursing assistants are suing the facility, saying that they were harassed while working there because they reported a case of sexual abuse.

The staff members informed the health department that a resident of the facility was being sexually molested by her daughters. The health department investigated and cited the nursing home for violations.  As punishment for reporting the abuse, the three staff members were harassed by fellow facility workers and had their hours cut to the extent that they were not making a livable salary. The stress of the situation caused the workers to quit.

It is extremely disheartening that many nursing homes, like this one, are more concerned with covering themselves than protecting and caring for their residents.