An increasing number of personal injury compensation claims against nursing homes involve not just the lack of proper treatment for patients, but also a snowballing trend of pushing elderly patients to receive therapy they don’t actually need. These additional treatments are not harmless, particularly considering patients are elderly, frail and often dying.
A recent elder care report by Bloomberg, detailing research findings in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, reveals the percentage of nursing home residents who are receiving rehabilitation classified as “ultrahigh intensity” spiked roughly 65 percent from October 2012 to April 2016. The definition of “high intensity” according to Medicaid, is at least nine hours every week. A therapy that is “ultrahigh intensity” is one that is 12 or more hours weekly. In some instances, study authors reported, patients at nursing homes were receiving the highest intensity of rehabilitative therapy in the very last week of their lives.
The analysis involved data from nearly 650 nursing home facilities and nearly 56,000 long-stay residents who had died – with a specific focus on those who were receiving ultrahigh rehabilitative therapies, specifically physical, occupational and speech therapy – in the month prior to death. These treatments, study authors pointed out, would be those garnering the the fattest payouts to insurers. But it’s unlikely to do much of anything to help the patient.
Personal Injury Compensation Guidelines for Unnecessary Therapy
In any Florida personal injury liability lawsuit – including those for nursing home neglect and negligence – one must prove duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. Our Palm Beach nursing home neglect attorneys know that medical overtreatment can absolutely have dire consequences for elderly seniors. Medical overtreatment can include things like pushing unnecessary medications (namely antipsychotic, benzodiazepines and cholesterol-lowering drugs), unwarranted screenings (colorectal cancer, etc.) or feeding tubes when assisted feeding is the preferable option. These types of overtreatments don’t help the patient and in fact, can hurt.
With regard to personal injury compensation claims involving unnecessary therapy at nursing homes, our injury attorneys would look at whether the nursing home patient was deriving any notable benefit and whether the treatment was actually hurting and/ or may have contributed to his or her decline, illness, injury or death. If that’s the case, a personal injury lawsuit may be worth exploring.
As our personal injury liability attorneys have seen in practice, many of these cases seem to involve a nursing home that knows a patient is approaching end-of-life, but is under financial pressure (or motivated by greed) to dole out the treatments so they can maximize revenue.
How Can You Be Sure Ultrahigh Therapy is Good for Patients at End of Life?
This is not to say ultrahigh therapy might never be good for any patient at the end-of-life. But how do we know it’s probably not? Well, consider the fact that if it was, it very likely wouldn’t be solely for-profit nursing homes doing it. Such instances of ultrahigh therapy is almost non-existent at not-for-profit nursing home facilities.
Some say this all goes back to problems with the reimbursement levels for skilled nursing facilities based on patient severity. This system appears to result in the most substantial reimbursements to nursing homes for ultrahigh intensity therapy – meaning facilities are eager to bring them in (some even if they lack the ability to care for them) and may be more likely to push for care the patients don’t really need and could actually hurt by accelerating their decline. This is especially true because if patients are receiving high-intensity therapy toward the end of their lives, they may be prevented from receiving end-of-life care that is more appropriate, such as palliative care or hospice.
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.
Nursing Homes Are Pushing the Dying Into Pricey Rehab, Oct. 9, 2018, By Riley Griffin, Bloomberg.com
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Nursing Home Care Quality – Not Diagnosis – Predicts Hospitalization, Sept. 16, 2018, Florida Personal Injury Compensation Claims Attorney Blog