Twenty years ago, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care released a compendium of research that proved the axiom "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The High Cost of Poor Care-The Cost Effectiveness of Good Care Practices (1991) showed how good nursing practices and routine assistance with activities of daily living could prevent billions of dollars in medical expenditures.
This week the Consumer Voice publishes a new version of that report, The High Cost of Poor Care: The Financial Case for Prevention in American Nursing Homes. The new report summarizes studies showing the extraordinary cost of treating preventable medical problems in persons over 65-$19 billion for falls; $11 billion to treat pressure sores; and $5 billion in hospital charges for dehydration. It also reports research on the cost-effectiveness of preventive measures. Nursing home residents account for only part of the costs cited above, but rates of avoidable medical conditions and hospitalization are particularly high among the nursing home population. One study quoted in the report concluded 20 to 30 percent of nursing home falls are preventable and that the best fall prevention method is exercise. This is "a relatively simple intervention," says The High Cost of Poor Care, "with the potential to dramatically lower costs."