Is patient abuse in nursing homes very common?

If you have a loved one in a nursing home or plan to find a nursing home for a loved one soon, it's important to know the state of the health care industry and in nursing homes across the country. Health care watchdog, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, plans to release a formal report on the negative ways patients are being treated in skilled nursing facilities (SNF).

With 134 total potential cases of abuse and neglect across 33 states, the federal agency wants people to know that their loved ones could be in danger and to warn them to be proactive about their health. Cases of rape and sexual and other forms of abuse have been reported.

It's been estimated that around 22 percent of SNF patients who receive Medicare have experienced adverse events while in the facilities. They include bedsores, medication-induced bleeding and infections, many of which should never have occurred. A medical record review showed that around 69 percent of the incidents could have been avoided if the patients had received the appropriate medical care during their stays. Sadly, around half of those harmed needed additional medical care and hospitalization to treat their injuries.

If you have a loved one who lives in a skilled nursing facility, you need to take time to check on him or her regularly. Not doing so could allow a dangerous staff member or negligent party to put your loved one at risk. By dropping by regularly, you'll be the first to notice changes or problems that need to be addressed.

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