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The problem is highlighted by the fact that these elder care facilities simply do not have adequate and properly trained staff to properly monitor a continually aging population.  Furthermore, elderly patients are often unable to effectively monitor the types of drugs that are entering their bodies. Please contact our elder abuse and nursing home neglect attorney if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medication error in a nursing home.
Furthermore, while medications might be given correctly, some types of drugs are incompatible with others.   Untrained or negligent health professionals have been known to mix these medications, which can also lead to injuries or death.
One-in-three patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection or some other type of harm related to their treatment, according to a government report recently released that underscores the widespread nature of the country's patient harm problem. Doctors who reviewed the patients' records determined that 59 percent of the errors and injuries were preventable.
Patient safety experts told ProPublica they were alarmed because the frequency of people harmed under skilled nursing care exceeds that of hospitals, where medical errors receive the most attention.
The doctors found that 22 percent of patients suffered events that caused lasting harm, and another 11 percent were temporarily harmed.
The injuries and deaths were caused by substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, delays or the failure to provide needed care, the study found.
One patient suffered an undiagnosed lung collapse because caregivers failed to recognize symptoms. Projected nationally, the study estimated that 21,777 patients were harmed and 1,538 died due to substandard skilled nursing care during August 2011, the month for which records were sampled. The authors also suggest that CMS instruct the state agencies that inspect nursing homes to review what they are doing to identify and reduce adverse events. In its response to the report, CMS agreed with the findings and noted that the Affordable Care Act requires nursing homes to develop Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement programs.
A "skilled nursing" facility provides specialized care and rehabilitation services to patients following a hospital stay of three days or more. As hospitals have moved to shorten patient stays, skilled nursing care has grown dramatically.
Medicare spending on skilled nursing facilities more than doubled to $26 billion between 2000 and 2010. John Sheridan, a member of the American College of Health Care Administrators, which represents nursing home executives, called the report valuable but noted that it sampled only a small number of patients. Sheridan also strongly disagreed with the report's observation that there's less known about patient safety in skilled nursing facilities compared to hospitals. Sheridan agreed that skilled nursing facilities could improve, but said the caregivers face a daunting task and work diligently despite low reimbursements Medicare pays to the facilities.
Evans said that patients receiving skilled nursing care are leaving hospitals sooner and that many are not medically stable and have more intensive needs.
Evans called the study significant and said he hopes it raises awareness and sparks improvements. Makary, the Johns Hopkins' doctor, said the patient safety movement has been more focused on problems at hospitals than in nursing homes. A 2010 report by the HHS inspector general estimated that 180,000 patients a year die from bad hospital care, and other estimates have been higher. Developing metrics to track improvement would be more effective than annual inspections, which don't do a good job of capturing a facility's everyday performance, Makary said. Patient advocates said the study verifies what they've heard from skilled nursing patients and their families. They are prominent problems that nursing homes should be "well versed" to address, he said. Mollot said the report should have more forcefully called for better enforcement of the existing standards in nursing homes. States inspect nursing homes on behalf of Medicare every year and when there are complaints, he said, but some inspectors are tougher than others. About 40 percent of people over age 65 will spend time in a nursing home at some point, Mollot said. Through the utilization of WhitesRx 'Medicine By The Dose' Service, you can be assured that your loved one, residing in a nursing home facility, is receiving the proper daily medication. We are Pharmacy Direct…with a large team of Registered Pharmacists and Representatives ready to answer all of your questions as well as those of the residents, patients, their guardians, and prescribing physicians.
Nursing professions are among the highest demand fields available for new college graduates. Quality care comes from time spent with the patient, and many nursing homes just don’t have the staffing to allow nurses the time to visit patients for more than a few minutes at a time. With a new bill being proposed to the Senate of New York, nursing homes and hospitals in the state would have to implement a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio.
California was the first state in the country to implement a required nurse-to-patient care ratio in 2004. In 2006, Florida passed similar legislation requiring a registered nurse to be in the operating room during every surgical procedure.

The Department for Professional Employees (DPE) recently conducted a study that compared California with two other states that don’t have minimum nursing requirements (as of 2006), New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to determine whether the minimum nurse-to-patient ratio implemented in California is working. To determine if passing a bill requiring a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio would benefit the patients and nurses of New York, it is helpful to know where the nursing homes currently stand regarding the quality of care. In 2006 the Attorney General of New York published a report on the staffing levels of New York nursing homes.
The passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act would vastly improve patient care by increasing the number of nurses available to assist patients during critical periods of the day when injuries are likely to occur (getting up to use the restroom, bath time). I felt so guilty placing my mother in an inadequate and abusive nursing home, but they had never once put blame on me. Whether rightfully so or not, senior care facilities often find themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Having the right insurance protections in place are crucial for senior care facilities when faced with a litany of potential accusations over medication errors, neglect, abuse and skimping on patient care to boost profits. Even though many industry groups and nursing home operators lament that the majority of the lawsuits filed against them help the attorneys filing the cases more than the residents, the fact remains that these claims are inevitable nowadays. A rising populationAs baby boomers move into the retirement phase of their life, and chronic diseases and conditions leave many of these individuals unable to care for themselves, senior care facilities have been growing in popularity as a viable option for providing the assistance they need. With the median age of Americans continuing to increase, senior care facilities will play an even larger role in offering a stable, comfortable environment for elderly individuals in the twilight of their life. Medication errorsSince the residents of senior care facilities are often suffering from a variety of physical maladies and illnesses, medication dispersal plays an important role in the daily operations.
While many senior care facilities will have skilled nursing staff, or maybe even an in-house pharmacist at some of the nicer ones, many of these institutions must rely on their own employees to administer medicine to the staff.
Giving a resident the wrong pills, too much medication or not enough of it can lead to tragic outcomes. However, not all medication errors are due to a mistake on the part of the senior care facilities’ staff.
Due to the high number and large variety of medications many seniors must take, it raises the possibility of an error. Finding the right partnersBrokers who partner with McGowan Program Administrators for Senior Care Insurance gain an unrivaled resource to assist in the lawsuits and claims leveled against these facilities.
More than half of those harmed had to be readmitted to the hospital at an estimated cost of $208 million for the month studied — about 2 percent of Medicare's total inpatient spending. Marty Makary, a physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore who researches health care quality. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) focused on skilled nursing care – treatment in nursing homes for up to 35 days after a patient was discharged from an acute care hospital. The deaths involved problems such as preventable blood clots, fluid imbalances, excessive bleeding from blood-thinning medications and kidney failure. The patient later had a reaction to medication and a blood clot and had to be transferred to a hospital.
It calls on the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to promote patient safety efforts in nursing homes as they have done in hospitals.
There are more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities nationwide, and about 90 percent of them are also certified as nursing homes, which provide longer-term care. About one-in-five Medicare patients who were hospitalized in 2011 spent time in a skilled nursing facility. He said Medicare has robust inspections of nursing homes it certifies – they take place annually or when there are complaints and are usually conducted by state contractors.
Jonathan Evans, president of the American Medical Directors Association, a group focused on nursing home care, said while he doesn't dispute the estimates in the inspector general's report, they are typical of problems that exist throughout the health care sector. Nursing homes, originally designed for long-term patients who did not need intensive care, and have been slow to adapt, Evans added. The patient safety research community has focused on reducing bloodstream infections and surgical errors at hospitals but has done less to address issues specific to nursing homes, Makary said.
Richard Mollot, executive director of New York's Long Term Care Community Coalition, said he was "flabbergasted" by medication errors, bedsores and falls that were identified in the report. Hopefully, he said, the inspector general's report will help the public see that care needs to improve.
There is always a need for qualified, professional LPNs and RNs in hospitals and other medical care facilities like nursing homes. A new bill known as the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, or NYA08580, passed by the State Assembly of New York attempts to change that. This is partly due to the opposition of the Coalition for Safe & Affordable Care and the opposition of a group of nursing home administrators, insurers, and hospital administrators. It was done to keep nurses on the job and improve mortality rates among patients requiring complex care.
In California, 73% of nurses felt that their workload was manageable, compared to 61% in Pennsylvania and 59% in New Jersey.

The purpose of the report was so that families could make an informed decision when considering nursing homes for their loved ones. Statistics have shown that passing the bill would be in the best interest of the patients if not nursing home administrators or insurance agents. The residents of these facilities are typically elderly individuals, many of whom are reliant upon nursing staff to assist them with their everyday tasks, like eating or bathing. Senior care insurance provides the essential security for these facilities when faced with a sobering allegation or troublesome lawsuit. Without the right insurance protections in place, these lawsuits can spell disaster for any senior care facility. According to The Wall Street Journal, 1.4 million Americans currently reside in a nursing home.
Because of this, it’s important that these facilities have the security in place to ensure they can provide this crucial service for seniors. While many of the residents are perfectly capable of remembering to take their own medicine, many of these elderly individuals are unable to perform this crucial duty. Even in the most controlled circumstances with the best trained staff possible, there is always a chance that something can potentially go wrong with the medicine dispersal.
As noted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Medicare beneficiaries staying at a senior nursing facility who suffered from medication-related adverse events was much more common than previously believed, and nearly half of these could have been prevented.
The physician prescribing the medicine, the pharmacist bottling the pills or the family members who insert themselves into the equation can all contribute to a medication error.
Falls, broken bones, bedsores and even abandonment can all occur to an individual residing at a senior care facility. This can pose difficulties, since many elderly individuals might be unable to stand or move under their own agency. Despite carefully screening applicants for employment and implementing internal policies aimed at preventing abuse, this is a problem that plagues this industry.
Doctors working with the inspector general's office reviewed medical records of 653 randomly selected Medicare patients from more than 600 facilities.
Dual Verification System… We will not fill any prescription until we have contacted the guardian and the prescribing physician or physicians assistant.
The nurse to patient ratio in these long-care facilities is often so high that it’s unsafe and sometimes leads to neglect. In addition, nurses will be allowed to refuse to work in facilities where the minimum staffing hasn’t been fulfilled. All the opposers say that imposing regulations will disrupt teamwork and deny flexibility in nursing homes and hospitals, thereby undermining care decisions. However, this model does not require a nurse to be linked with a certain number of patients, only that the nursing home should have a certain number of nurses on staff.
During surgical procedures, California experienced a mortality rate that was almost 14% lower than New Jersey and 10% lower than Pennsylvania. The research revealed that 98% of the homes in the state would not meet the standards required by a comprehensive federal (CMS) study for the quality of care. Due to the nature of this environment, employees at senior care facilities must tread carefully in every action they undertake to help the residents. Because of this, it falls on the senior care facility to ensure they administer the appropriate medication to the right person. Unfortunately, the senior care facility is often the first target in a lawsuit arising from the injury or death caused by a medication error. Providing a safe environment requires staff members to ensure all residents are not only bathed, groomed, fed and properly medicated, but also that they are free of problems associated with immobility or illness. In addition, we offer special features that include sexual abuse liability, evacuation, HIPAA and data breaches. With coverages available nationwide, managers and owners of senior care facilities can rest easy at night when they think McGowan. Supporters of the bill believe that the quality of care would improve with a lower staff to patient ratio.
These statistics alone indicate that California is doing something right by implementing a required ratio of nurses to patients. Seventy percent of the homes would not meet staffing standards set in Florida, and 38% wouldn’t meet California standards. The information contained on this website should not be construed as formal legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.

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