It is estimated that nearly 43% of the U.S. population now 65 and older will reside in nursing homes during their lifetime. It means those in the senior housing industry can continue to expect nursing home properties to be a large source of business. However, because of the compromised physical state of many seniors residing in nursing homes, the properties can also be a major litigation risk. Cambridge Realty Capital can help finance or refinance an investment in a nursing home facility, but it is up to owners and operators to protect and grow that investment through effective operations and risk management.
The risk of nursing home litigation simply cannot be eliminated completely, but it can be minimized through effective facility management. One of the most common underlying issues in nursing home litigation is pressure sores. Some law firms even request that residents’ families contact them if they have suffered from a pressure sore. It is unlikely that a facility could ever completely eliminate pressure sores, which are caused by a person staying in one position for too long, but they can be minimized through proper procedures and staff training. The three best ways to reduce risk of pressure sore-related litigation are to prevent sores as much as possible, document sores when they occur, and ensure the facility is adequately staffed.
Not only is having a bedsore prevention program prudent, it is required by federal law, as is ensuring that staff is trained on how to help prevent this type of medical ailment. The program must include development of a care plan for the elderly patient and the implementation of the care plan if a bedsore should appear.
Pressure sore avoidance begins with ensuring that all facility staff understand pressure sores and how to helpalleviate and prevent them. Staff should ensure that patients’ positions are changed regularly, ideally every 15 minutes for those in a wheelchair and every two hours for those that are bed-bound. Staff should also inspect residents’ skin on a daily basis and bandages covering open wounds should be changed daily as well.
Documentation of bedsores when they occur is essential to minimizing risk. If litigation results, nursing facility staff and administrators will be asked about their documentation and compliance with governing state and federal laws. Many adverse judgments are the result of documentation errors or omissions. Among other documentation requirements, clinical staff should remember to document:
· a detailed description of the bedsore;
· when the bedsore was noticed;
· what stage the bedsore is in;
· a plan of appropriate steps they are going to take to help treat the sore; and
· the carrying out of the bedsore treatment plan.
Last but not least, another proactive step a nursing home facility can take to guard against litigation is to always have adequate trained staffing on site. Federal and state laws regarding minimum staffing should always be followed, but facilities may also want to consider staffing above those rates. Many health experts attribute pressure sores to insufficient staffing and attention by staff – that is not testimony that you want to hear at a trial.
If you have any other questions about bedsore prevention, or need financing for your project, contact Cambridge Realty Capital for assistance today.