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Newly Formed Long-Term Care Commission Holds First Meeting

On Thursday March 7, 2014 the members of the newly formed Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission, along with the Secretary of Public Welfare and the Secretary of Aging, met for the first time to begin developing long-term fiscally responsible recommendations for the current Pennsylvania long-term care health care system. By executive order Governor Tom Corbett on January 31, 2014 established a 25 person commission with the goal to “ensure the system and its services are person-centered, efficient, effective, and fiscally accountable.” According to Secretary of Public Welfare Beverly Mackereth, Pennsylvania spends an estimated $4.7 billion each year on Medicaid long-term care services. As the demands of the aging Pennsylvanian population is expected to grow so to will the cost of the long-term care services. As a nursing home injury specialist I am hesitantly hopeful that true change will be initiated on a state level.

The need for long-term care is inevitable with one of four citizens expected to be over the age of 60 by 2015. Governor Tom Corbett established the commission as part of the Healthy Pennsylvania plan that helps to ensure affordable quality health care. One of the more serious and common injuries sustained by nursing home residents are falls. In 2000, the cost of all fall injuries in the United States for people 65 and older exceeded $19 billion. It seems that if Pennsylvania wants to lower the cost of Medicaid long-term care services then we must invest in proper staffing in all long-term care facilities as well as training to reduce preventable injuries such as falls. While a fall to a young health individual may only require time to heal and a little rest, a fall sustained by an older American can be severe and costly.

The cost of a fall increases rapidly with age. According to a 2005 study entitled “The acute medical care costs of fall-related injuries among U.S. older adults,” the average cost for hospitalization for a fall injury was about $17,500. In nursing home setting falls are often caused by lack of supervision, unrevised fall risk plans, medications that causes dizziness or lack of coordination, and understaffing. Traumatic head injuries, hip fractures, and broken bones caused by a fall can require extensive care and hospitalization and can even be fatal. A long-term care patient may have to undergo surgery, take pain medication, and have physical therapy when released, all of which can lead to a loss in their quality of life. As mobility and independence tend to go hand in hand it is common to see residents who after suffering a severe fall suffer bouts of depression as their daily routines become interrupted. By the end of the year the Long-Term Care Commission will submit their recommendations to the Governor, hopefully plans to lower the rate of preventable injuries will be among the suggestions.

Nursing home abuse can lead to serious and life threatening injuries. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a nursing home injury, and would like more information regarding personal injury representation, and to determine whether you have grounds for a case, please contact us online or call 1 800 7 LEGAL 7 for a Free Case Evaluation.

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