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Many nursing home hospital transfers lack proper communication

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Accidents and personal health crises are common at nursing homes. Many of the residents there have several health issues and are nearing the final years of their lives, so workers have to be quick and delicate when transferring them to an emergency department.

Many families expect the physical transfer to be the only thing they need to worry about in these scenarios. However, even older patients that don’t fall down during the ride over are still at risk if one crucial part of the process is overlooked. Doctors need to know what they are working with, and nursing homes don’t always give them the full picture. Families should know what common problems have been plaguing the transfer process for years.

Incomplete information

Studies show that 10 percent of nursing home hospital transfers involved the nursing home staff not giving any information to the emergency department while nearly the rest of the transfers lacked essential information that could have helped them.

There are some instances where the nursing home worker does provide information to the hospital about the patient, but they present it in a flawed manner. For example, the worker may present outdated medical information on the patient and make them vulnerable to medications that the doctors shouldn’t use.

In some scenarios, the crucial information is present, but it’s buried underneath dozens of pages of irrelevant details. That extra time the doctors spend looking through the paper work is extra time where the patient doesn’t get the treatment they need. A study showed that the average length of transfer information set to the emergency department was at least 24 pages with only an average of five to nine elements relevant to the health issue.

Improving the process

Studies show that a standardized transfer form may help nursing home workers communicate these issues better to the hospital staff since they can cut straight to the main problems. They aren’t enough to solve every issue given the amount of complications many older residents have, but it can make it easier for doctors to figure out what they need to do quickly.

Families should also pay attention to what treatments the patient was taking at the hospital to inform the nursing home so they can update their medical records and potentially prevent the staff from making any more avoidable mistakes. If a loved one suffers due to a communication failure in the hospital transfer, you may want to contact an attorney that specializes in nursing home neglect.