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Are seniors in nursing homes suffering the most medical errors?


Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Aug 02, 2012 in Nursing Home Neglect

As our parents age, the conversation comes up over how to handle their medical care in Connecticut. When a parent and their child choose a nursing home as the solution, it is because the parent needs the type of constant, around-the-clock care that a child often cannot provide. What the child is really doing is asking another to take on a duty that is so important to them: the well-being of the person who raised them.

Nursing homes should honor this duty, but sometimes they fail. According to recent research, the elderly are suffering some of the worst overmedication in years despite some popular belief that children are the ones who are prescribed medications they may not need. Seniors are also shown to be at most risk for suffering a medical error. In fact, data shows that at least one in seven Medicare beneficiaries have or will suffer from a medical error.

One of the major problems affecting seniors has been the use of anti-psychotic medications. In the year 2011, at least 19 percent of all hospitals and nursing homes were cited for the unnecessary use of this type of medication. Unnecessary meaning exactly what it sounds like; those who were taking the medication had absolutely no reason to do so. So why is it happening?

Of all nursing home patients across the country, 39 percent suffered from mental issues like cognitive impairment or behavioral problems associated with dementia. Although none of these patients had symptoms of psychosis, they were being given the anti-psychotic medication.

Sadly, the nonprofit group Connecticut Center for Patient Safety reported that in one year alone a total of 950 elderly residents died in a state hospital. That same year there were 22,000 patients who had suffered from a serious infection that research shows was completely preventable.

A representative for the group said that Connecticut is one of the leaders in advocating and helping improve patient support, but more needs to be done. "Behind each statistic there is a name, a family, a story of sorrow," she said.

Source: New Canaan News, "Seniors disproportionately harmed by medical errors," Ken Dixon, July 7, 2012

If you are concerned about the care that your loved one is receiving, contact our Waterbury nursing home neglect attorneys for more information.