Inadeqaute staffing may result in nursing home neglect, mix-ups

Residents of a nursing home facility deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity due every individual. Each may have a unique personal and medical history, and that may translate into unique care needs.

Nursing homes and assisted care facilities are generally staffed with nurses or other medical professionals to offer health services to residents. Yet a recent survey of over 7,600 patient-identification mix-ups spanning a 30-month period revealed an alarming safety concern.

A nonprofit research group called the ECRI Institute collected the data from 181 health-care facilities. ECRI categorized the identification errors by type. Over one-third of the errors involved x-rays or other diagnostic tests; just less than one-quarter involved medical treatments; and 13 percent occurred during the patient registration or intake. Other types of mistakes included medication or dietary errors.

Fortunately, hospital staff caught over 90 percent of the reported mix-ups before patients were harmed. Yet not all were so lucky: some fatalities also occurred. One commentator recommended standardized record-keeping procedures as a solution, perhaps using photo IDs for patients, bar coding medications to patient wristbands, and other precautions.

Our personal injury law firm has investigated many cases of nursing home abuse or neglect for our clients. Unfortunately, we have observed facilities that were not adequately staffed to meet resident needs and provide a professional level of care. If that duty has been breached and caused or might cause injury to a loved one, proactively consult with an attorney to protect yourself.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Medical Record Mix-Ups a Common Problem, Study Finds,” Melinda Beck, Sept. 25, 2016

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