A recent NPR article by Ina Jaffe reported on the failing state of the nation’s long term care facility. In the article, Jaffe noted that many of theseshortcomings and harm to patients come from poor training and short staffing; these problems are nothing new to this industry.

 Jaffe’s report follows the story of the death of Charles Caldwell who drowned on the fluids in his system as a result of improper medication administration. Caldwell’s family could do but sit helplessly and watch this tragic event happen. A report released by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that Caldwell’s is not too dissimilar to the many reported to their offices. The report continues:

In a large sampling of Medicare patients discharged from hospital to skilled nursing facilities in one year, roughly a third of the patients were harmed by their treatment in the nursing homes, the study found. Most of that harm could have been prevented.

Officials believe the ignorance and misjudgment found in their many reports matches the failing of care in Mr. Caldwell’s case.

The DHHS report indicates that numerous problems in the facilities are found in the failures of routine day-to-day care. Jaffe notes that: “Lack of monitoring and paying attention was definitely a factor, along with ‘what clinicians would call substandard medical care’”.  The facilities charged with protecting and caring for our loved ones continue to fall short of numerous standards.

Beyond the failure of care in the facilities, results of this poor care are putting undue financial burden on the system. Jaffe reports:

About 60 percent of nursing home patients wound up back in the hospital as a result; such injuries cost Medicare about $2.8 billion a year, officials say. That’s just the hospitalization cost. It doesn’t account for extra doctor visits and longer nursing home stays that also result from patients’ injuries.

These statistics reflect the poor standards of our nursing facilities and further the lack of action to change this status quo. Many of the changes needed to improve the standard of care are simple: better monitor residents, increase staffing, promote continued education and better training in the facilities.

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