How Are Hospital Transfers Affecting Nursing Home Liability?

How Are Hospital Transfers Affecting Nursing Home LiabilityHow Are Hospital Transfers Affecting Nursing Home Liability?

According to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the quality of communication between hospitals and the nursing homes that receive their patients is inefficient. The study was led by researchers from the University of Wisconsin and included nurse researcher Dr. Barbara King and Geriatrician Dr. Amy Kind. This ineffective communication has the ability to increase nursing home liability exposure, and is something you and your staff should be aware of when it comes to mitigating risks.

The authors in the study conducted interviews and focus groups with 27 front line nurses in skilled nursing homes. Most of these nurses felt that they were ill-informed about the hospital patients they were receiving into their facility, and that they lacked essential details about their residents’ clinical status. One may assume that the problem is lack of paperwork, or insufficient documentation. However, the study found that the most common problem was simply the lack of clarity.

Many of the nurses said that hospital orders that come with their residents are unclear, and they have trouble deciphering just what the order is. About one third of the respondents of the survey said that they spend one to two hours making calls to clarify doctor’s orders, and 13% spend two to three hours. This is challenging for nursing homes, taking their staff’s attention away from caring for residents and potentially creating nursing home liability risks for your facility.

The question remains, what can be done to help change hospital to nursing home communications when it comes to patient transfers? Although the answer may not be definitive, the respondents of another study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality feel that in general, problematic communications with hospitals are compounded because patients often transition late in the day or on Friday afternoons. About half of these respondents said that having a single hospital contact with thorough knowledge of the incoming resident would significantly improve communications. Social workers were indicated to be good candidates for this role.

Do you feel that your staff has a good process for receiving residents from hospitals? Can anything be done differently at your specific facility to better communication? At DigniCARE, we are focused on the wellbeing and care of your nursing home residents. We offer Senior Care Risk Management programs including Nursing Home Liability Insurance, and coverage for Independent Living Facilities, Assisted Living, and Continued Care Retirement Communities. Please contact us today for more information at (855) 883-6306. 

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