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Study shows nursing home transitions need more resources

Based on a study that has been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, Iowa patients who are being transferred from hospitals back to nursing homes might benefit from having a nurse practitioner work with them throughout the process. Such patients are particularly vulnerable to errors. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, within days of returning to their nursing homes after a hospitalization, about 25 percent of patients with complex medical problems are harmed. In most cases, this harm is the result of errors around medication, monitoring or follow-up care.

The nurses in the study saw patients within 48 hours of being released from hospitalization. In over 50 percent of the visits, they were asked to deal with one care issue. Of the potential care issues, 32 percent were linked to physicians, 33 percent to the nursing home and 29 percent to the discharging hospital. Around 25 percent of the medication issues were related to pain medication while nearly one-third of the issues not dealing with medication were about follow-up care or actions.

According to one of its authors, the results of the study demonstrated that it is not simply a matter of nursing homes being at fault. The hospital, nursing home and doctor all need to work together, and the transition process needs more resources.

Studies have also shown other transitions times to be dangerous for patients as well. For example, medication errors and communication breakdowns often occur at shift changes. People may suffer serious harm as a result of these types of errors. They might have a reaction to the wrong medication or fail to receive the treatment they need. People who have been harmed in such a manner may want to discuss their cases with a medical malpractice attorney.

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