Diabetic Nursing Home Population Continues To Grow
One in every five individuals 65 years and older suffers from diabetes mellitus. The prevalence of patients with diabetes while staying in a nursing home is estimated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be one in three. With the advancing age of baby boomers rapidly growing, this number is expected to grow even higher in the next few years.
However, with the rising cost of health care across the nation, many extended term facilities are now understaffed. The number of long-term care residents suffering from diabetes mellitus has grown significantly in the last two decades, while the lack of adequately trained professionals has placed diabetic nursing home patients at risk. These higher numbers exacerbate the challenges that all health care homes face when providing care to diabetic nursing home patients.
Currently, there are no specific long-term studies to show how individuals 65 and older can benefit by proper control of their lipids, blood pressure and glycemic numbers. However, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) indicates that the increasing numbers of premature deaths, comorbid conditions and functional disabilities are likely disproportionately higher in older individuals suffering diabetes compared to younger individuals without diabetes.
Skilled Nursing Facilities Placing Profits over Patient Care
In many incidences, the need for nursing homes to generate profits for stockholders often comes at the expense of their patients, especially those suffering from diabetes mellitus. Understaffing leads to less monitoring of every diabetic patient under the care of the medical staff in a nursing home, resulting in higher glycemic numbers, blood pressure rates and lipids.
In addition, frail elderly adults suffering from diabetes mellitus tend to suffer cardiovascular conditions in greater numbers when compared to younger patients. Usually, these patients have an increased potential of developing serious hypoglycemia or hypoglycemic coma. The numbers of mortality rates in nursing homes directly correlates with intensive insulin therapy associated with hypoglycemia sufferers.
Without developing and implementing an effective diabetic treatment plan, the quality of life for many diabetic patients in nursing homes can be greatly diminished. This is because uncontrolled hypoglycemia can lead to osmotic diuresis, which often presents as an excessive production of urine, constant sleep disruption with a desire to urinate, aggravated incontinence and dehydration. Each one of these conditions can produce serious implications to overall health and quality of life.
Negligent Care Rampant When It Comes to Caring For Diabetic Nursing Home Patients
Recent studies involving nursing facilities found that many health care providers did not properly respond to 50 percent of all abnormal test results in patients suffering from diabetes. This is often the result of physicians hesitating to treat the diabetic nursing home patient properly over concerns of an adverse effect or lack of guidelines on how to proceed.
While diabetic treatment guidelines might be beneficial, an individualized health plan must be developed to meet the comorbidity needs of every patient. However, individualizing an effective treatment for every diabetic patient could substantially elevate the complexity of care the nursing staff would need to implement on every shift. As a result, many diabetic patients’ requirements are often simply ignored.
Many nursing homes do not develop and implement effective treatment protocols for patients suffering with diabetes mellitus at their facility. This is unfortunate for the sufferer, because when their needs for proper diabetic treatment go ignored they are often transported to the hospital for urgent care. Most require extensive hospital level of care to treat of chronic and acute complications properly, which might have been avoided had the nursing home staff done their job.
State and Federal Fines Imposed When Facilities Fail To Address Patient Needs
Many nursing homes are suffering serious financial damages caused by the negligence of their medical team. Federal and state agencies are issuing fines on nursing homes that failed to provide adequate care to their diabetic residents. This includes failing to properly monitor blood sugar levels, lipid levels and the glycemic numbers. In addition, some nursing homes have received fines as a result of not providing the medical staff adequate testing supplies to follow blood glucose monitoring protocols.
Because of the unnecessary complications that results in serious injuries and death, the magnitude of the medical staff’s negligence in handling diabetic patients is reprehensible. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to begin placing the needs of the patient over the profits they generate. Until then, there will likely be many more reports of serious injuries and death to residents caused by negligence.