Friday, April 01, 2011

Lawsuit Study on Nursing Homes Released

A study published in the March 31 issue of the New England Journal of
Medicine  included the following findings on Nursing Homes:

Five large U.S. nursing home chains provided information on lawsuits brought against them between 1998 and 2006. Researchers looked at the alleged reason for the suit and the outcome.
During that period, plaintiffs filed 4,716 claims against 1,465 nursing
homes. On average, each nursing home was sued every two years.
The most common Nursing Home harms alleged were fall-related injuries (27 percent) and pressure ulcers or bedsores (16 percent). Other claims were for dehydration,
malnutrition and excessive weight loss, physical or verbal abuse and
medication errors.
Sixty-one percent of the claims resulted in a payment, which averaged
nearly $200,000.
Researchers then analyzed the likelihood of a nursing home being sued based
on 10 measures of quality gleaned from two national databases, including
one that tracks the health of nursing home residents on a monthly basis.
Nursing homes that had the most nurse's aide hours per resident-day -- a
measure of how well staffed a nursing home is -- were also slightly less
likely to get sued, but again, not by much -- 45 percent compared to 41 percent
annually for those with the lowest staffing levels.
One measure for which there was a significant difference in the likelihood
of lawsuits was pressure ulcers or bedsores. Nursing homes with the lowest
pressure ulcer rates had a 6 percent chance of being sued in a given year
because of bedsore-related complaints compared to 11 percent for the
worst-performing nursing homes.
Concluding that lawsuits have little effect on quality of care, the authors
say that other long-term efforts, such as public reporting of nursing home
conditions and performance-based reimbursement schedules, may be needed to
encourage improvements.

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