MENTALLY ILL PATIENTS IN NURSING HOMES

We have seen many occasions where a nursing home resident, minding their own business and bothering no one, is physicall attacked and seriously injured or killed by another resident. In every one of those situations, we discover that the attacker has a long history of aggressive and threatening conduct…and often a history of psychaitric or mental illness. I have often wondered how frequently the mentally ill geriatric patient is “housed” in a nursing home which is not designed to care for these patients with additional health care needs. Well, the information has just been released and it is disturbing.

The number of first-time nursing home residents admitted with mental illness has far surpassed the number of first-time residents admitted with Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to a recent nursing home population analysis.

Between 1999 and 2005, the number of nursing home residents admitted with a mental illness rose from 168,721 to 187,478. That is more than 50% more than the 118,290 residents admitted with dementia only, according to the study, which considers mental illness schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety disorder.

The rise in mentally ill residents was fueled by an increase in the number of patients with depression. The joint Harvard and Brown University study, Trends in Mental Health Admissions to Nursing Homes, 1999-2005, employed Minimum Data Set information to track admissions demographics

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Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.