The belief that health workers and care facilities provide patients quality care, observation and respect eases the worry that comes with placing a loved one in a health care facility.
For the most part, medical professionals live up to or exceed these expectations. But, unfortunately, some facilities are not run with the quality service and care people would want for either themselves or for their friends and family. Nursing home neglect and abuse can result.
What are Long-Term Health Care Facilities?
Long-term care hospitals are health care facilities that keep patients longer than regular or specialized hospitals. Patients in these sorts of facilities are often seriously ill and require constant care. Traditional hospitals do not have the beds or the money to keep such patients in their facilities, and nursing homes are not equipped to handle the severity of the patients’ conditions.
Long-term hospitals, therefore, are an important addition to the healthcare field. Medicare funds allow them to treat patients needing chronic care, and beds remain open in traditional hospitals and nursing homes for patients needing them.
According to a recent study, these long-term care facilities face serious problems:
- Of the 400 facilities in the U.S., very few have doctors on staff
- Limited regulation and inspection
- A focus on profit means “monitored staffing,” lowered “supply costs” and unethical discharge of patients
The recent, highly overdue investigation into the hospitals – the facilities of Select Medical Corporation in particular – reveals an alarming number of preventable injuries and deaths occurring in long-term care facilities, likely due to the above factors.
Long-term care hospitals violate Medicare rules at an average rate 4 times higher than the average rate of traditional hospitals. One recent study found that instances of bed sores – a preventable skin condition often caused by negligent care – were also significantly high in long-term facilities.
Further allegations of negligence include multiple cases where the preventable death of long-term care patients occurred:
- In 2004, a Kansas patient died when a nurse failed to respond to his heart monitor reading.
- In 2007, an Oklahoma patient died after her long-term caregiver injected her with 10 times the amount of insulin she should have received. Not only did the medication send her into a coma, but the workers in the long-term facility did not notify a doctor until at least 90 minutes after the incident.
Protect Lives and the Integrity of Healthcare
The Senate Finance Committee recently opened an investigation of the hospitals’ practices. Because the committee oversees Medicare, the future funding of the hospitals depends on this important investigation’s findings.
If you or a loved one has been mistreated or a victim of negligence in a health care facility, it is crucial that you contact a personal injury attorney in your area. Reliability and dignified treatment in our hospitals is important, and an experienced attorney can not only help you get the damages you deserve, but also serve to change health care practices for the better.