Transfers to emergency rooms have negative long-term impacts on the health and well-being of nursing home residents. Almost 25% of all nursing home residents experience an emergency transfer to the hospital every year. That is a significant number. The risk of injury increases with each hospitalization.
However, these transfers are preventable with adequate assessments and care planning. An inability to properly assess or communicate with the resident is a known obstacle. Nursing homes need enough registered nurses to recognize and respond to changes of condition. Before they become critical.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published a study analyzing unplanned hospital transfers. The data showed that nursing homes are more likely to transfer residents with cognitive impairments than other residents with similar conditions.
Falls, trauma, fracture, non-gastrointestinal bleeding, and pain were the most common reasons for transfer to the ED. The study showed that residents most likely to be transferred were those with cognitive impairment and respiratory difficulties. The study also showed a significant likelihood of reduced functioning and overall negative health impacts after discharge.
The researchers suggest caregivers focus on how to treat falls and symptom management within nursing homes to help reduce transfers. According to the study, another strategy is to help improve the ability of care providers in the ED to assess nursing home residents. Staffing an adequate number of competent registered nurses is needed.