With more than 15,600 nursing homes in the U.S. and more than 1.7 million residents, nursing homes are busy places. With a wide range of residents, each of whom can have specific medical needs, it requires strict regulation and controls to properly manage the medical care of a large facility. Proper oversight and management of the medical care residents is an important part of a nursing home’s many responsibilities.
Examples of medical mismanagement in nursing homes can include medication errors and mishaps, missed doctor appointments and orders, misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis, and overlooked routine medical or dental care. When not carefully supervised, mismanaged medical care can lead to poor resident health, and for elderly and fragile residents, it can be life-threatening.
The Danger Of Medical Mismanagement In Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are designed to meet the ongoing needs of elderly residents who do not require hospitalization, but need regular supervision and support. Individual and ongoing instances of medical mismanagement in these types of settings can wreak havoc on elderly residents.
The consequences of medical mismanagement for residents can include:
- Failing health
- Physical injuries, including bedsores
- New or worsening medical conditions
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional stress and trauma
Examples of medical mismanagement in nursing homes can include improper or unwarranted medical restraints (misuse of sedatives) and failure to observe the need for appropriate medical care.
According to the Merck Manual research and data, senior citizens take more medications than their younger counterparts because they typically have more ongoing health care disorders. The vast majority (90%) of older adults take at least one prescribed medication daily. Up to 80% take at least two daily medications, and up to 36% take five or more.
Examples of medication errors and mishaps include:
- Failure to administer medication on time
- Administering medication in incorrect dosages
- Confusing medications between multiple residents
- Improperly monitoring or dressing wounds
- Failure to monitor intravenous medications
Medication errors in nursing homes are a form of medical mismanagement that can cause long- and short-term damage to residents’ health.
A misdiagnosis can be dangerous because it can mean the patient is treated for a non-existent condition. It will also mean an existing condition is not treated at all. Examples of misdiagnosis in a nursing home can include:
- Stroke which can be misdiagnosed as general confusion
- A heart attack which might be misdiagnosed as anxiety
A medical misdiagnosis can mean nursing home residents might experience the progression of undiagnosed diseases. It can also leave elderly patients confused, stressful, and anxious. It might also cause them to overlook other signs and symptoms of adverse health conditions that can lead to even worse health.
Like a misdiagnosis, a diagnosis that is missed altogether can cause nursing home residents to suffer ill health. Examples of a missed diagnosis include:
- Missing the signs and symptoms of an illness
- Failure to accurately diagnose a medical condition
- Failure to provide necessary life-saving measures
- Failure to avoid dangerous medication interactions
When a proper diagnosis is not made, the nursing home resident will not receive appropriate treatment. For elderly patients, this can result in a disease that progresses rapidly or in loss of life.
Overlooked Routine Health Care
Good dental hygiene is a part of good overall health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), painful, missing, or misaligned teeth can make proper nutrition difficult, as can misaligned or ill-fitting dentures.
Medical mismanagement can include poor or overlooked dental health. When the elderly lack appropriate nutrition, they can also lack energy. This can create additional health challenges since good nutrition can ward off diseases associated with older adults, including:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of cancer
Along with insufficient general health care, mismanaged routine health can also include failure to monitor pre-existing conditions and failure to have regular health screenings.
Missed Doctors’ Appointments
The self-inflicted problem of understaffing at nursing homes, combined with the inherent challenge of caring for the various daily assistance and medical needs of the residents can make schedule management difficult. When elderly patients miss scheduled health care appointments, it can lead to other types of mismanagement issues.
Regular checkups and ongoing health care can support overall good health. Regular appointments can ensure nursing home residents experience periodic mobility checks and have important vital signs like blood pressure and cholesterol checked. They can also ensure illnesses and diseases are diagnosed early, which can lead to proper treatment options.
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If you are the loved one, spouse, or child of an elderly person whose health was damaged because of medical mismanagement in their nursing home, our law firm can help you hold the facility responsible for their negligence. Do not hesitate to contact our team, because your time to take action is limited.
Contact one of our free consultation team members at Brown & Barron to start building your case for financial recovery today.