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Department of Health and Human Services Now Providing Incentives to Los Angeles Health Agencies in an Attempt to Stop Preventable Injuries

On December 14, 2011, Modern Healthcare reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is implementing an incentive program to award up to $216 million to health agencies in an attempt to reduce preventable injuries. Despite the honorable intentions of the program, the truth of the matter is that health agencies will now be receiving awards for following procedures that they should have been following all along. A similar problem can be found in nursing homes. Often, skilled nursing facilities are careless in their caretaking processes due to a lack of incentive. Unfortunately, most of the injuries that occur in nursing homes are usually avoidable, but nurses are just too understaffed or unmotivated to take measures to prevent them.

Most injuries in nursing homes occur when patients fall. Common injuries include, but are not limited to, hip fractures and head trauma. Even when elderly adults survive these injuries, they often are unable to make a full recovery. Because one injury has the ability to trigger a gradual decline in the overall health of elderly adults, it is extremely important to take every measure possible to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place. Nursing homes need to create individualized care plans for all their patients, especially those that have conditions that increase their risk of falling. Even more important is that these care plans are carried out by nurses every day.

Unfortunately, it is not rare that these care plans are drafted and then completely disregarded by nurses in their daily caretaking procedures. When nurses are unable to follow care plans, it is usually because they are understaffed and simply do not have the time to provide each patient with the specialized, one-on-one care that they need.

Sometimes, in an attempt to prevent falls, nurses will justify the use of physical restraints. This is, however, a direct violation of Patients’ Rights, which assert that a patient is not to be restrained in any way, except for when medical reasons require it. However, even under these circumstances, patients have the right to refuse treatment. Physical restraints actually incur more harm than they do benefit. In fact, a recent study has confirmed that the use of physical restraints does not decrease the likelihood of falls in nursing homes. However, the use of physical restraints is linked to incontinence, depression, isolation, pressure ulcers, and an overall decline in mobility.

If your loved one has suffered injuries that have led to death and you feel that it was as a direct result of nursing home neglect or understaffing, please contact us today because you may have a valid Wrongful Death claim. We would also like to encourage you to contact us if your loved one currently resides in a skilled nursing facility in El Segundo, Hidden Hills, or Bradbury and you feel that he or she is not receiving sufficient care and may be at risk of injury. We can only hope that eventually, incentives will not be necessary to motivate health agencies to strengthen their efforts against preventable injuries. However, until then, we are dedicated in helping you preserve the quality of life of your loved one by relentlessly fighting for his or her rights.