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Nursing Home Abuse: Disturbing Statistics On Patient Care

Disturbing Statistics On Patient CareIf for no other reason than objectivity and brevity, I like it when things are quantifiable by numbers.  While there usually is more to things than may meet the eye, statistics— when accurately compiled— really can demonstrate what words may not be able to communicate as well.

A colleague sent me a list of statistics related to nursing home abuse from Masters In Health Care that I had to review several times before the full extent of these numbers sunk in.  Review the figures for yourself– and maybe take a visit or pick up the phone to check  in on your loved one.

  • More than 30% of all nursing homes experience some form of resident abuse: Nearly 1/3 of all nursing homes have residents that are subject to abuse, whether it’s by staff or other residents. These include malnutrition, physical abuse, psychological distress, exploitation, neglect, and sexual abuse.
  • In 2005, almost all nursing homes had at least one deficiency: Statistics show that in 2005, 91.7% of America’s nursing homes were cited by health inspectors for at least one deficiency.
  • 90% of abusers are known:Nearly all of the time, those who abuse nursing home residents are not strangers. That means staff members, residents, or familiar visitors are almost always to blame for nursing home abuse.
  • 5,000 deaths in 1999 may be due to negligence: Red flags for nursing home negligence were listed on 5,000 death certificates of nursing home patients in 1999. These include starvation, dehydration, or bedsores as the cause of death.
  • 30 incidents of aggression can happen in one 8-hour shift: In one investigation, 12 nurses observed aggression between residents 30 times in an 8-hour shift.
  • Only about 20% of abuse cases are ever reported: Many nursing home residents do not have the mental presence or confidence to report abuse for themselves, and it may go unnoticed by family and other caretakers, so often, nursing home abuse cases are not reported.
  • 92% of all nursing home patients take antipsychotic drugs: Nearly all nursing homes open their doors to at least one convicted criminal, and there are no national requirements for background checks for nursing home employees.
  • One-third of all nursing home patients take antipsychotic drugs : It is suspected that older adults are being overmedicated with antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, used to prevent combative behavior, agitation, and outbursts by dementia patients.
  • There are not enough nursing home beds to serve the entire elderly population: In 2008, there were only 1.8 million total nursing facility beds, but there were 18.8 million people aged 65-74, and 14.7 million people aged 75 or older.
  • More than 50% of nursing home residents don’t have close relatives : Many residents of nursing homes are without family support that can watch out for neglect or abuse.
  • One nurse’s aid may care for up to 30 people: Often, the ratio of nurse’s aids to patients is 1:15, but it can go as high as 30. The recommendation is 1:3 during a meal and 1:6 during non-meal times.
  • 90% of US nursing homes have staff levels too low for adequate care: Statistics on abuse and neglect are not so shocking when you realize that 90% of nursing homes do not have the staff levels available to care for their patients effectively.
  • The average annual cost for a private nursing home room nay be $175,000 by 2021: The average cost for a room at a private nursing home in 2003 was $66,000, but that figure may rise exponentially.
  • One out of four nursing homes is cited for death or serious injury to a resident: In 2001, one of every four nursing homes received a citation for causing serious injury or death to a patient.
  • Twenty complaints per nursing home were received in 2007: With 257,872 complaints relating to quality of care, facilities, staffing, and other factors, there was an average of 20 complaints per nursing home in 2007.

2 responses to “Nursing Home Abuse: Disturbing Statistics On Patient Care”

  1. Zephyr says:

    It would be prudent to remind your readers that not all nursing facilities are abuse factories. This blog paints a truly dismal picture of the long term care industry and, as a 4th generation facility owner, I would like to make a couple points here.
    First, there is never any excuse for abuse, neglect or exploitation – it should not be tolerated and any perpetrators punished.
    Second, it is helpful to facilities for resident’s family members to be active in their family member’s care. An extra set of eyes is great.
    Next – your statistic on deficiancies is somewhat misleading. Deficiencies range from cracked dumpster lids to abuse. A facility that is missing a drain plug on a dumpster is not necessarily abusing its residents.
    Regarding the antipsychotic medication situation – unless the facility has an in house physician that prescribes the residents’ meds, it is not up to the facility to prescribe medication. To get antipsychotic medication, the resident has to have a referral from their regular physician to see a psychologist to get meds. A facility should be keeping track of behaviors, but many times overmedication comes from family members complaining to the doctors. A facility cannot be blamed for things it does not have control over. We can make recommendations to the families and residents, but they don’t have to listen to us.
    Staffing levels could always be higher but facilities do have to meet certain resident to staff ratios – in Texas, staffing ratios have to be posted at all times where families can see them.
    Nursing homes across the country are having to provide more care for ever decreasing amounts of money. If we have a resident receiving $84/day in medicaid, but it costs the facility $100/day to care for them – where do facilities cut costs? Our facility continues to make it work and we do everything we can to have a loving atmosphere while providing quality care – but we’re getting squeezed. Your readers would be able to help by contacting their representatives and letting them know that funding long term care is important and should not continue to be cut.

  2. Zephyr-
    I always appreciate getting input from various perspectives. Thank you. In all seriousness, I’m sure that like any business operation, doing a thorough job can be extremely difficult when expectations are high and margins are tight. Please feel free to share your experiences in the future as many of our readers would surely appreciate hearing the other side of the issues we discuss. Jonathan

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