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Skilled nursing facilities danger zones for patients

A full third of the patients who are residents of skilled nursing facilities suffer some kind of treatment-related harm. This can include developing an infection or getting the wrong dose or kind of medication, one government report alleges.

In a physician review of patient records, it was determined that almost 60 percent of injuries to patients and errors in their care were preventable. Over half of the patients who suffered harm needed readmitting to the hospital. The costs for this are estimated to be about $208 million for that month, or roughly 2 percent of the total inpatient budget for Medicare.

As reported to ProPublica, patient safety experts expressed alarm due to the frequency of patients being harmed while under skilled nursing care. The rates exceed that in hospitals, where medical errors are featured more prominently.

This study was done by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. Its focus was on skilled nursing care -- the treatment that patients receive in nursing homes for as long as 35 days after discharged from acute care hospitals. Physicians reviewed the medical records of 653 Medicare patients selected at random from over 600 different facilities around the nation.

These injuries and deaths happened because of delays, inadequate monitoring, substandard treatment or failing to render the necessary patient care. Some deaths occurred due to preventable complications like fluid imbalances, blood clots, excessive bleeding in patients who were prescribed blood-thinners and kidney failure.

If you are concerned about the quality of care that you or a loved one received in a skilled nursing facility or other medical setting, you may want to contact one of our attorneys to discuss the particulars of your potential medical malpractice case.

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