Articles Posted in Healthcare Technology

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are charged with caring for those who are not able to fully care for themselves. The duty that a nursing home owes to its residents is a broad one, ranging from providing residents with assistance in completing daily tasks to ensuring their physical safety. Included in the duty nursing homes owe to their residents is the obligation to ensure that any medications that are prescribed to the residents are properly administered.

When a nursing home is negligent in administering a resident’s medication, the nursing home employee responsible for the mistake, as well as the nursing home’s management, may be liable for any injuries caused as a result. These nursing home negligence lawsuits can result in significant liability for a nursing home, and the pressure exerted by this potential liability has led some nursing homes to implement additional safety features when it comes to the delivery and administration of patients’ medication.

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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), generally defined as bacterial, viral, or fungal infections contracted by patients while receiving medical treatment, are a potentially major hazard for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities (LTCFs). As many as 2.8 million LTCF patients may contract HAIs, some of them fatal, every year. A group of epidemiologists recently revised the definitions used in the surveillance of HAIs, providing new tools to document and track infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued new guidelines to help LTCF’s monitor HAIs. These new tools will hopefully help reduce the development and spread of infections among nursing home residents.

HAI Surveillance Definitions

In the October 2012 issue of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America’s (SHEA) journal, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, a panel of experts present a new set of definitions for use in monitoring LTCF infections. The existing set of definitions, known as the McGeer criteria, date back to 1991.

A group of experts led by Allison McGeer published a set of definitions in the February 1991 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. The purpose of the McGeer criteria was to establish a uniform set of guidelines to monitor infections in nursing homes, such as standards for identifying newly-contracted or worsened acute infections that require monitoring.

According to the paper containing the revised definitions, the McGeer criteria work well in nursing homes providing non-acute care to older residents, but they do not necessarily address concerns faced in LCTFs providing acute care and care to younger patients. New types of nonhospital treatment facilities have appeared since 1991, so newer criteria for identifying and tracking HAIs is necessary.

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Our Washington D.C. nursing home injury attorneys recently discussed the problem of fall-related injuries across the country, and the importance wellness and prevention education plays in keeping elders out of the hospital and nursing homes.

Much of the work of preventing falls with the elderly starts with always reporting any change in health conditions to doctors, like dizziness, and reporting previous falls. Other recommendations include daily exercise and hydration, and having regular eye exams, along with working with a doctor to minimize or revise medication management to work best for the individual. Other expert suggestions include having railings and bars installed in houses and showers, keeping clutter off the floor, avoiding any clothing that is loose or could cause a senior to trip, and for homes to be very well-lit. Other advice includes creating an emergency plan in case of a fall—like having seniors wear a medical device that would call for emergency attention.

In a recent Washington D.C. nursing home lawyer blog, our attorneys discussed the CDC’s recommendations on how to prevent nursing home falls, which include assessing each resident after a fall to discuss the senior’s medical conditions and risk factors, by discussing potential risks with falling, and reviewing prescribed medications. The CDC also advises that if a senior is recovering from a fall, that the nursing home, hospital or rehab facilities should provide a safe environment to residents who are prone to falling—including raised toilet seats, safety handles and bars in rooms and bathrooms, handrails, adjustable bed heights that can be lowered, and padding to prevent injury. The CDC also recommends using alarm devices that are triggered when a patients attempts to get out of bed without assistance.

If someone you know in the Washington D.C. area has experienced nursing home or hospital falls that could be due to negligence, call our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation, at 1-800-654-1949.

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Our Washington D.C. nursing home injury attorneys recently discussed the prevalence of falls in nursing homes and hospitals in a blog, and how to reduce the number of falls that can result in nursing home resident injury and wrongful death throughout the nation.

The CDC reports that over 1,800 residents die each year from falls in nursing homes. Injuries sustained from nursing homes and hospital falls can be frequent, debilitating, and expensive health care issues for elderly adults to face. As the CDC reports, finding ways to prevent fall-related injuries with elderly residents in nursing homes and hospitals is extremely important in preventing future injuries.

Elderly residents who are weak, have difficulty caring for themselves or have difficulty walking, are often prone to nursing home or hospital falls, along with patients who have chronic health conditions, or memory problems like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

According to Dr. Ronald I. Shorr, MD, in hospitals, there are generally two types of patients who fall: patients who are frail, and patients who don’t want to interrupt or bother the hospital staff. Hospital providers have reportedly found success in preventing falls by installing alarms, scheduling the administration of medication to prevent falls, redesigning rooms to have bathrooms closer to beds, and updating fall-risk assessments that are shared with healthcare teams and patients, while they are hospitalized and after they leave to return home. Shorr is reportedly in the middle of a study funded by the National Institute of Health on how to prevent falls.

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Our Maryland Nursing Home Attorneys have been following the recent story about a New York nursing home that is hoping to use new Israeli devices that can reportedly track wandering nursing home patients to maintain resident health and safety, and prevent nursing home falls or injury.

According to the article, the Hebrew Home, a prominent nursing home in New York, has been awarded a special legislation by New York State to try a new healthcare project, as part of the Managed Long-Term Care of the state.

The goal of the Hebrew Home’s CEO, Dan Reingold is to work with cutting edge technology companies and government officials in Israel to utilize innovative technologies, to find ways to maintain the health and safety of the residents, provide quality care, reduce nursing home falls with frail patients or patients experiencing dementia, and at the same time, cut nursing home costs. Reingold claims that the medical technology in Israel is far more advanced than technologies in the United States.

Some of the new technologies that are being developed focus on monitoring patients with devices that can keep track of how much time a person spends in bed, as well as monitoring patients who have a tendency to wander, and are at risk for falls or nursing home injury.

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In recent nursing home patient safety and technology news, our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence Lawyers have been following the required development of electronic point-of-care devices, to be installed in Vestal Nursing Center, along with eight other nursing homes in New York. This nursing home healthcare technology development was as part of a deal made with the state Attorney General’s Office, after 14 employees were convicted of criminal charges for falsely testifying that they had provided appropriate care to patients—and were caught on a surveillance camera doing otherwise.

In 2005, Feliz Ortiz suspected that his father, a dementia patient resident at the Rochester nursing home wasn’t getting the proper care he deserved. His family was visiting him every day, and suspected serious nursing home abuse and neglect. After the state Department of Health checked the records of his care and suspected that the records were doctored, the state Attorney’s Office installed a hidden surveillance camera in his father’s room—to investigate of the level of care being provided.

The video results corroborated with Ortiz’s suspicions—his father wasn’t being turned every two hours to prevent bed sores, wasn’t being hydrated properly, and was left for hours on end lying in his own waste, while the nursing home caregivers claimed to be treating him properly. Employees were found allegedly sleeping, smoking, watching movies and not providing the promised nursing home care.

Point-of-care technology uses electronic devices to record services at health-care facilities, like the turning of a bed-ridden patient and the dispensing of patient medication in actual time. The new system of technology will also allow the nursing home caregivers to record information about the residents in their rooms, instead of having to walk back and forth to the nursing station—a process that will save time spent on paperwork, and give more time to the patients.

Electronic records will then be created for patients’ medical charts with the necessary information that can be easily accessible in the future after the implementation of electronic medical records occurs—where patient information for doctor visits, nursing homes, and critical care-facilities are all available electronically.

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