Diabetes affects millions of people in the United States alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. adults live with diabetes or a pre-diabetes condition. In seniors aged 65 or over, approximately 12 million people struggle with the disease – over a quarter of all Americans in this age range. This high diabetes rate in seniors poses unique challenges for nursing homes, and the number of affected seniors is only growing. The challenges of providing care to seniors with diabetes have resulted in a staggering number of liability claims. While nursing home insurance is an important part of risk management, many other aspects can protect facilities, staff, and patients from the losses associated with rising liability claims.
Health Concerns for Diabetic Seniors and their Caregivers
As the American population ages, the number of people affected by diabetes will continue to grow. Seniors aged 65 and over make up almost 15% of the U.S. population, with 25% of that group living with diabetes. Most surveys combine diagnosis rates of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and include the number of undiagnosed cases of both types. While estimates vary, somewhere between 25-34% of nursing home residents has been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is a complex disease to treat, and there are significant risks in the disease and its treatment for elderly nursing home patients. If patients are not adequately treated, dying prematurely is a common, yet unfortunate result. Patients with diabetes also experience higher levels of mental and physical disabilities, adding further complication to their treatment.
Elderly patients with diabetes also have a higher likelihood of certain chronic diseases and health concerns, including:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic pain
- Urinary incontinence
- Cardiovascular disease
Diabetes care requires skilled attention from nursing home staff, and this can drain available resources. Managing blood sugar levels necessitates regular monitoring, including nutrition and dietary considerations. Administering medications to help control levels also requires the attention of nursing home staff. Some medications used to treat other medical conditions may interfere with insulin administration and can even mask warning symptoms, resulting
Liability Risks Associated with Diabetic Care
Nursing homes have a duty to provide their patients with compassionate care, regardless of health concern and severity. Because caring for elderly diabetic patients can be so challenging, staff may make errors in managing the disease and its underlying causes. With inadequate treatment, patients may experience severe medical complications, including premature death. Claims of negligence and neglect have plagued the long-term care industry as a result, leading to millions of dollars in legal expenses and settlement payments. A claim of negligence can harm the business operation of a care facility, not to mention the impact of legal claims on staff and patient residents of these facilities.
Managing Diabetes Risks in Nursing Home Facilities
To better manage the risks associated with diabetes care in nursing homes, numerous organizations have developed guidelines. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) created a standard of care for long-term care facilities to implement. Monitoring and drug dosage/administration guidelines were also established by the American Medical Directors Association. Many other groups were instrumental in highlighting the need for nursing homes to protect their patients with advanced diabetic care.
For their part, nursing homes have addressed the needs of their diabetic patients by implementing rigorous training programs for caregiving staff. Improved monitoring practices have also been added to many facilities. Finally, the role of nursing home insurance cannot be overstated. This specialized form of insurance is designed to mitigate the liability risks associated with providing care to patients, including those with diabetes and related medical disorders. With improved monitoring, training, and drug delivery protocols, nursing homes may continue to provide expert care for their senior patients – patients who deserve the very best care available.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.