When you read a lot of health care news (as I do) there are times you run across really sickening stories. Today I read about a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine done with Harvard University and Dartmouth Medical School researchers about dementia patient care. It seems that almost 20% of hospitalizations by nursing homes may have been motivated not by their concerns over patient health but simply by money.
It seems Medicare pays three times more for nursing homes to care for patients after brief hospitalizations. The transfer rate varied from just 2% in Alaska to 37% in Louisiana. In McAllen, Texas 26% of the study participants had multiple trips to the hospital for conditions that can easily be treated in a nursing home like urinary infections, pneumonia and dehydration. Only 1% of the patients in Grand Junction, Colorado were transferred to hospitals for the same conditions.
For some nursing homes to take advantage of the weakest and sickest in our society speaks volumes about the state of our health care system. Too often it's all about the money, not the people.