Recently, the Medical Journal of Australia released research into the ongoing status of premature deaths in nursing homes. The study covered insights into deaths that were reported between the years of 2000 and 2013 and was determined to have resulted from external causes.
Of the 21672 deaths of nursing home residents reported in total, over 15% resulted from external causes. The most common mechanisms causing premature deaths were falls (2679 cases), as well as choking (261 cases) and suicide (146 cases). The incidents that lead to death typically occurred within the nursing homes. However, the deaths more frequently occurred outside of the nursing home. The annual number of deaths that were caused by external factors in nursing homes increased significantly during the study period.
The research pushed the study to conclude that the incidence of preventable and premature deaths in nursing homes has gotten worse over the past decade.
The Findings of the Latest Study
Of the various deaths that were reported to Australian coroners during the time of the study, most were of women (60.8%). This is consistent with the fact that there are usually more women in nursing homes than men. Additionally, the age range of women dying prematurely in nursing homes was between 25 and 106 years for women, with a medium of 88 years. Alternatively, the age range for men was between 39 and 103 years. The age distribution for nursing home residents in the study was similar to the distribution in a standard caring home.
For the most part, the premature deaths that occurred as a result of factors in the care home were accidental or unintentional. The majority of the issues were related to falls. However, there were also intentional injuries reported in 183 of external cause deaths. Most of the issues related to intentional injuries lead to suicide. However, 39 deaths took place as a result of poor clinical care or complications during clinical care.
The study offers one of the most comprehensive insights into external cause deaths in accredited nursing homes that were reported to Australian coroners. The researchers found that preventable and premature deaths often occur in nursing homes. Additionally, coroners clearly have an important role to play in identifying the factors that prevent injury and death. Additionally, in 98.4% of cases, coroners made no recommendations about how to prevent injuries in the future.
Changing the Care Home Environment
From an injury prevention perspective, it’s worth noting that the most non-natural reasons for deaths in the caring home were related to falls, followed by choking and suicide. Despite the public policy emphasis around the nursing home today, it’s clear that systems need to be put in place to protect the frail individuals in the care environment.