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Articles Posted in Nursing Home Neglect

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A recent study shows that delirium can be linked to mortality rates in nursing homes. The report, authored by Dr. Martin M. Forsberg of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, found that roughly 18% of the nursing home population suffers from delirium. Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confusion, abnormal thinking or behavior, and affects perception, attention, and mood. Another characteristic of delirium is restlessness.

At first glance, the signs of delirium may look a lot like dementia, which is a byproduct of Alzheimer’s disease, but the two are different conditions. Dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s primarily affects an individual’s memory and intellectual abilities, while delirium is displayed more in abrupt spurts of confusion. One key difference is inattention, as individuals suffering from delirium have trouble focusing on one idea or task. On their face, the two conditions may appear almost indistinguishable, which is why many nursing home patients who suffer from delirium are misdiagnosed as having Alzheimer’s, which means they do not receive the proper medical care.

The two also differ by how they are brought on. Dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s is not always a normal part of aging. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Delirium, on the other hand, is normally caused by a combination of factors that make the brain vulnerable and trigger a malfunction in neuropathic activity. There may be a single contributing factor or a combination of factors including malnutrition, dehydration, sleep deprivation, emotional distress, chronic illness, and surgery or other medical procedures that involved anesthesia. For instance, a patient may suffer from a serious illness while simultaneously facing neglect from caregivers. Certain environmental factors may play a role in delirium. For example, the absence of a clock, television, or phone in a nursing patient’s room has been found to worsen the symptoms of delirium.

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The family of a nursing home patient is suing Whitehall of Deerfield Healthcare Center, an Illinois nursing home facility, and its employees for the negligent care that lead to the patient’s death. Cheryl Hobart filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois, seeking damages against Whitehall of Deerfield, alleging that Whitehall failed to properly administer patient John Hobart’s medication, which caused him to overdose and ultimately pass away.

Of all the injuries associated with nursing homes, medication errors can be the most preventable. Despite this fact, medication errors are one of these most common causes of action in nursing home litigation. More than half of adverse drug effects are contributed to medication errors.

Medication errors can occur at any one of three stages: prescription, monitoring, and administration. When prescribing patients new medications, physicians may often misdiagnose the illness, prescribe the wrong dose of the medication, or fail to consider how a new medication may interact with medications the patient is already taking. Nursing home patients are particularly susceptible to adverse medication reactions because many elderly patients require a combination of different medications to help sustain a healthy lifestyle. Most nursing home patients have between eight and 10 medications, on average, which can lead to a higher likelihood of an adverse interaction. It is estimated that unforeseen adverse interactions account for 22% of prescribing errors, while prescribing the wrong dose accounts for nearly 63%.

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