As a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer, I was interested to see a new study suggesting that hospitalized nursing home patients may need an advocate even more than previously thought. As HealthDay News reported April 18, a new study by Northwestern University has found that older people can suffer short-term memory loss when they go into the hospital. Researchers found a temporary reduction in cognition among one-third of the patients they studied as they were being discharged from the hospital, but a majority of those problems disappeared in a month. They cautioned the public that it’s vital for seniors to have a family member or other advocate present on discharge, so vital medical instructions aren’t forgotten or lost.
The researchers studied 200 people ages 70 or older who lived alone and didn’t have any diagnosis of cognitive problems like dementia. On the day the patients were discharged, the team administered tests measuring their reading and writing skills, orientation, calculation and comprehension. The results showed problems with nearly one-third of the patients. A month later, the researchers administered the tests again. Of those whose earlier test results showed problems, 58 percent no longer had results showing reduced cognition. Lead author Dr. Lee Lindquist said this suggested that some seniors may be better off with help understanding and applying discharge instructions. That kind of help could reduce the need for more hospitalization in the future caused by confusion or missed instructions about things like medication.
As a Pennsylvania nursing home lawyer, I am particularly interested in this as it applies to nursing home care. Patients in nursing homes are supposed to have advocates already on staff — aides and nurses who are in charge of medication, nutrition and other needs. But all too often, nursing homes fail their patients by mixing up instructions or neglecting important medical needs. To prevent this kind of Pennsylvania nursing home abuse, I believe it’s important for families to stay involved — at all times, but especially when a loved one is hospitalized. By advocating for their disabled relatives at a time when they may not be able to advocate for themselves, families can prevent neglect and abuse leading to more health problems or even death.
If someone in your family has suffered an illness or injury you believe was caused by neglect or abuse at a nursing home, you should call the Philadelphia injury lawyers at Rosenbaum & Associates. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call us toll-free at 1-800-7-LEGAL-7.