In a February, 2009 report from the Department of Health and Human Resource’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention it was revealed that one in ten residents in nursing homes in 2004 suffered from pressure sores. How does this relate to a previous blog I posted that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will no longer reimburse nursing homes for pressure sores that occur in a nursing home because they are a preventable condition. One in ten does not sound like nursing homes in 2004 were taking care of their patients.
You probably expect to hear that age old line of old people get pressure sores.’ However the report stated that residents aged 64 years and under were more likely than older residents to have pressure ulcers. That has to be a reflection of poor care. Or how about, ‘well, they are there for a long time and get sicker and sicker.’ To answer that the report found that residents of nursing homes for a year or less were more likely to have pressure sores than those with longer stays.
So to take care of this epidemic of pressure sores, what did the nursing homes do? Well, only thirty-five percent of nursing home residents with stage 2 or higher (more severe) pressure ulcers received special wound care services in 2004. So not only does the report reflect that unnecessary pressure sores are occurring in younger people who are there for short periods but also that the nursing homes are not aggressively treating them.
Meanwhile, as reported by Carrie Strasser in her blog last night, the Bush administration with a last minute signature and with no input from the public designated state inspectors, Medicare and Medicaid contractors as federal employees. This rule affects approximately 16,000 nursing facilities nationwide and is forcing plaintiffs with potential personal injury actions, and the defendants opposing them, to take painstaking efforts to obtain information. The effect of which is to make it more difficult for lawyers to obtain the information necessary to assist in prosecuting nursing home abuse cases. Doesn’t it seem more logical to make this information more readily available so the public will know which nursing home to place loved ones in?
The jury is still out on what effect the lack of reimbursement will have on the prevention of nursing homes, but common sense should tell the nursing home industry to take of the business of caring for patients.
Civil litigation attorney Billy Cunningham practice concentrates on personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, business litigation, environmental law and insurance matters. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.