The Times-News had an interesting article on the recent OIG report finding that one in three nursing home patients were harmed by medication errors, infections or injuries. Doctors who reviewed the report for a news organization, almost six in 10 cases were preventable. “For anyone who has ever had a loved one in a nursing home or is contemplating that possibility, this should be pretty terrifying.”

“What that means seems obvious: With a little effort, better training and well-followed procedures, many of those patients wouldn’t have had to suffer additional treatment or re-hospitalization. Pro Publica, a nonprofit journalism website that specializes in investigative reporting, ran a story outlining some of the more salient findings and talked to doctors about what it all means. In short, we’re not doing a very good job when it comes to ensuring the safety and care of our frailest residents.”

“This study found that the odds are even worse in nursing homes. Many of these errors are the result of understaffing, inadequate training, negligence and lack of or failure to follow procedures.”

Medical experts insist it is possible to reduce the number of preventable injuries and infections in nursing homes. It should be a priority, because doing so is good for the patient, their families, the nursing home and the taxpayers. Preventable accidents, medical mistakes and infections affect more than the patient; they cost our entire health care system by necessitating expensive additional treatment and readmission to the hospital. The study estimated that preventable injuries cost Medicare and patients about $208 million in that single month. Over a year’s time that’s almost $2.5 billion.

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