Most people would prefer to continue living in their own homes as they age, even if they need medical observation and care that their family isn’t qualified to provide (or they have no family living nearby). That’s where home health nurses come in. They’re also called in to help with hospice and palliative care as people near the end of their lives, and the most anyone can do is help them be as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
Home health nurses have increasingly become an integral part of elderly Americans’ lives. However, they, like other medical professionals, sometimes make serious errors. In fact, one report published last year found that home health nurses accounted for over 20% of nurse malpractice claims from 2015 through 2019. That was more than any other type of nurse, and more than double the number of claims in the last report, which was published five years earlier.
It should be noted that the same report, which was published by CNA Insurance and the Nurses Service Organization (NSO), another 10.5% of claims involved gerontology nurses working in facilities that care for the elderly.
What do the most common claims involve?
The top five reasons for the claims were the following:
- Treatment and care (56%)
- Patients’ rights, abuse and/or professional conduct (14.3)
- Medication administration (10.1%)
- Lapses in monitoring (7.6%)
- Assessment (5.1%)
The largest average payout on malpractice claims ($324,360) involved failing to properly communicate a patient’s health information to them, their providers and/or family members. The average overall payout was over $210,000
The authors of the report note the growing number of malpractice claims related to home health care doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of the nurses who do this work. “Rather, it is more reflective of the overall shift in patient care locations.”
A medical professional doesn’t have to work in a medical facility to be held liable for medical malpractice. If you have a loved one whose health suffered or who was harmed by a home health nurse, it’s wise to find out whether you can bring a malpractice claim against them and the agency that employs them.