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The nursing home industry is not going to like this study

The nursing home industry in Ohio and nationally has likely felt a bit besieged the past few years by recurrent media stories focusing on substandard and sometimes even abusive care.

Industry principals, home owners and legions of professional staff members across the country probably feel even more defensive these days, in the immediate wake of a government report that serves up hearty criticisms of the industry.

Here’s a core nugget among a slew of findings that are chronicled in a study compiled by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that was released earlier this month: About one of every three patients in a so-called “skilled nursing facility” is victimized by a medication error, facility-acquired infection or other harm, such as a blood clot or fall.

And here’s salt for the wound: Doctors employed by the government to review study patients’ records — in all, the notes and charts for more than 600 Medicare patients in several hundred facilities — say that the great majority of medical mistakes committed and resulting injuries and illnesses needn’t have occurred at all.

In other words, they’re preventable in most instances, plain and simple.

The report focused on a single month in 2011 and confined itself to patients who entered a nursing home immediately following care at a hospital. Those patients were tracked for a maximum period of 35 days.

According to researchers, about 22 percent of them were inflicted by some type of permanent harm. When reviewers projected study findings across the country, an estimate emerged that nearly 22,000 patients were harmed in homes during the study month by the substandard care they received.

One United States senator calls that “a troubling picture.” An executive with a nursing home industry watchdog organization says that the report left him “flabbergasted.”

That patients’ advocate says that the study will hopefully serve as a public wake-up call and catalyst for needed changes in the industry.

Source:  Pro Publica, “One third of skilled nursing patients harmed in treatment,” Marshall Allen, March 3, 2014