Is there a systemic flaw in nursing home diagnostic care?

According to a recent report, a medical misdiagnosis may affect most Americans at some point in their lives. In fact, an estimated 12 million patients might suffer from this type of medical harm each year. The findings were authored by an independent team of medical experts and released in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences. 

Even more alarming, there appears to be a lack of visibility for this type of health care error. The cause may be systemic, beginning with a lack of measurability. For example, diagnostic errors might be revealed only in retrospect, perhaps after an autopsy or a medical malpractice lawsuit. Feedback to clinicians prior to those events might be limited. 

Unfortunately, the system of care at nursing home facilities shares some of the same flaws as hospitals. For example, if nursing home staff members fail to keep comprehensive medical notes and record their observations, the qualify of care provided to their patients might be inconsistent or even negligent. Nursing home staff may also fail to seriously listen to the feedback of their elderly patients, all of which could contribute to diagnostic errors.

When negligent supervision and care causes injury to a nursing home resident, a civil action premised on a liability theory of nursing home neglect or abuse may be available. This type of claim must establish the duty of care that was owed to a resident, a breach of that duty as evidenced by the actual level of care that was provided, and causation for any resulting injuries. Yet it may take the investigative and legal skills of an attorney to uncover the signs of nursing home abuse and/or neglect. Staff may make excuses, such as the elderly patient’s poor health. If you or a loved one suspects mistreatment, an attorney can discuss your options. Our law firm focuses on this area of law and can fight for your rights. 

Source: Washington Post, “Most Americans will get a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in their lives,” Lena H. Sun, Sept 22, 2015

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