Home Health & Hospice

Weekly roundup

Homecare Insider, May 9, 2016

DoJ: Thousands deprived of home care options

South Dakotans with disabilities do not have a meaningful choice to receive the services they need in their own homes and communities, the Department of Justice (DoJ) reported last week. South Dakota unnecessarily relies on nursing facilities to provide services to people with disabilities, in violation of the community integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., according to a post on the DoJ News web page.

The DoJ’s findings follow an investigation into the state’s system of care for people who receive services and supports in nursing facilities. The department found that thousands of people who rely on the state for services must live in nursing facilities to receive those services, when they could instead live in their homes and communities if they had access to adequate home- and community-based services.

Source: DoJ

Agencies share blame for medication errors

A Kaiser Health News analysis of government records found medication errors are frequently missed by home health agencies. Between January 2010 and July 2015, inspectors identified 3,016 home health agencies that had inadequately reviewed or tracked medications for new patients. In some cases, nurses failed to realize that patients were taking potentially dangerous combinations of drugs, the Washington Post reported last week.

One factor is the lack of organization and communication among these other parts of the medical system. Of the $30 billion that Congress appropriated to help shift the system to electronic medical records—to improve care coordination and reduce errors across the continuum of care—no funds went to nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities or providers working with individuals in their homes, the Washington Post stated.

Source: Washington Post, Kaiser Health News

Is it time to code ‘death from medical care’?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiles an annual list of the most common causes of death, using death certificates filled out by physicians, funeral directors, medical examiners, and coroners. However, although medical error is acknowledged as a major problem in healthcare delivery, medical error is not included on death certificates or in U.S. agency rankings as a cause of death.

“A major limitation of the death certificate is that it relies on assigning an International Classification of Disease (ICD) code to the cause of death, wrote Martin Makary, MD, PhD, and research fellow Michael Daniel, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). “As a result, causes of death not associated with an ICD code, such as human and system factors, are not captured.”

Although human error is inevitable, measuring the problem could lead to safer systems mitigating the frequency, visibility, and consequences of such errors in medicine. Strategies to reduce death from medical care include:
•    Making errors more visible when they occur so their effects can be intercepted
•    Having remedies at hand to rescue patients
•    Following principles that take human limitations into account to make these errors less frequent

Source: BMJ

Smartphones, gaming, and dementia

Sea Hero Quest, a new game available on smartphones, may help identify dementia patients. In the game, players set sail in search of precious artifacts, in the form of memories. As players progress through the game, scientists can use the data they generate to gain insight into their spatial navigation abilities—one of the first skills lost at the onset of dementia.

The aim is to get hundreds of thousands of people playing from around the world, to establish the normal range of navigation skills among the general populace, CNN reported. Once that benchmark has been developed, neuroscientists could then identify further guidelines to spot dementia early.

Source: CNN Health