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Nursing Home Care Quality – Not Diagnosis – Predicts Hospitalization

Quality of nursing home care – more than one’s actual diagnosis – is the predictor in whether a patient avoids hospitalizations and rehospitalizations. This is important to know because hospitalization means a patient is already the point of suffering emergency or serious health problems. It disrupts one’s care and with long-term nursing home patients, we often see a significant decline in health and functioning following discharge from a hospital. This is especially true for frail, older adults.¬†

Avoiding deterioration to that point is preferred, which means we need to know what’s landing nursing home residents in the hospital in the first place.

As long-time nursing home negligence attorneys in Boca Raton, we can tell you that of course not every nursing home patient who is hospitalized is there because of negligence, abuse or medical malpractice by the nursing home, staffers or medical contractors. Many nursing home patients are already quite sick to start. However, if you suspect your loved one may have received care that fell below the accepted standard and that this may have played a role in the decline of your loved one’s health, talking to a nursing home injury attorney can help either put your mind at ease or start the process of seeking accountability for wrongdoing.

Recently, study authors with the Indiana University Center for Aging Research conducted analysis published in the¬†journal of The Gerontological Society of America, revealing that clinical diagnosis isn’t truly the best indicator of a nursing home patient’s avoidable trip to the hospital. Instead, what they found was more predictive was the coordinated systems the nursing homes had in place.

Regenstrief Institute researchers looked at a contract nurse staffing agency with employees in 19 different nursing homes. The staffing agency had the same standards for its nurses. Then researchers examined hundreds of patient transfers to local hospitals. The most common causes for avoidable patient hospital transfers were:

  • Pressure ulcers
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cellulitis
  • Dehydration
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma/ COPD
  • Heart failure

What they discovered was that in a quarter of cases involving “acute” transfers, patients had been diagnosed with one of these conditions versus 22 percent of those who were transferred with other types of conditions that might not necessarily be preventable.

Nursing homes that were successful in reducing their patient hospital transfer rate were those that were able to manage these problems with institutional communication improvements. What that did was make certain that changes in condition were detected faster. It also meant that patients could receive palliative care services faster. In 45 percent of cases, researchers said the patient’s condition could have been managed with appropriate resources at the nursing home. The No. 1 problem area was failing communication, noted in almost half of unnecessary patient hospital transfers.

Patients tend to fare better, researchers said, when there is continuity of care at a single nursing facility. Those are the staffers who know the patient, it’s familiar, nurses and doctors know the patient.

This isn’t to say that certain conditions should be overlooked as potentially high risk for hospitalization, researchers said, but diagnosis alone isn’t the only thing to consider when weighing preventative strategies.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Investigating the Avoidability of Hospitalizations of Long Stay Nursing Home Residents: Opportunities for Improvement, July 2018, Journal of The Gerontological Society of America

More Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Abuse Intensifies Federal Oversight, Sept. 9, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Blog

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