Nursing home mistakes can hurt residents and a facility’s ability to be reimbursed by Medicare. And if nursing home abuse is discovered, it can void insurance coverage and often lead to a handful of lawsuits. Many nursing home workers put a lot of effort into their work and care for the livelihood of their residents. But it takes only one or a few mistakes to be in violation of the patient standard of care.
Patient abuse is the most severe violation, and can involve workers stealing from residents, withholding food, or other physical and emotional types of abuse. Pressure ulcers and wounds are the next most common mistake. Nursing home workers should document and take photos of any ulcers on admissions. This can help to have a baseline reference of how the patient came into the facility and what steps the nursing home staff can take to heal these conditions.
It can never be said enough that bandages must be checked. A recent lawsuit awarded $650,000 to a woman whose bandages were not checked for 11 days and once the site was checked, it was crawling with maggots. Medical professionals cannot ignore internal controls and patient complaints. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that 16 percent of nursing home residents deal with decubitis ulcers. Innovative products such as the Skin IQ™ Microclimate Manager can dramatically cut down the risk of developing decubitis ulcers. The Skin IQ is an electrically powered mattress coverlet that pulls moisture away from a patient’s skin and lowers the skin temperature to make them more comfortable. It costs about $6 a day versus a Low Air Loss mattress that is around $30 a day. For nursing home residents that are more immobile, this type of technology can be critical to lessening ulcers and the risk of patient liability.
Most pressure ulcers and wrongful death lawsuits stem from malnutrition and dehydration. Medical professionals at the nursing home must monitor each patient’s nutrition and watch out for weight loss. Also, patients must be monitored for issues regarding deep vein thrombosis and venous stasis ulcers. Compression therapy machines are affordable to rent and can help residents from having more severe issues. All these concerns should be addressed in each patient’s care plan; otherwise, lack of documentation can cause a nursing home to be liable for an injury or death.
Risk of falling is another area that nursing homes can improve on. Nursing homes must have initiatives to help residents stay mobile and have assistive devices as needed. Equally as important is the risk of residents wandering or escaping a facility. Insufficient staffing or ignoring internal procedures is no excuse for having a patient’s life in jeopardy. Nursing homes should take extra care in doing employee background checks to make sure they have the right staff on board and ensure that the ratio of residents to workers will help ensure the standard of care is upheld.