Obese residents strain nursing home resources

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Nursing homes across the country routinely deny hospital referrals for obese patients. Moderately obese patients, those with a BMI of 35 or above, strain nursing home resources and impact their ability to provide care. Obese patients require specialized care that most nursing homes are ill-equipped to provide. This post will delve into the difficulties faced by nursing homes and how it impacts their ability to provide care for your loved one.

Obese patients require specialized equipment such as beds, blood pressure cuffs, wheelchairs, and mechanical lifts. All of this specialized equipment is very expensive and is not covered by Medicaid. Medicaid provides funding for 90 percent of nursing home residents.

Obese patients also require more staffing hours to provide them care. Obese patients need to be shifted every couple of hours or risk the development of pressure ulcers. But obese patients require at least two nurses and a mechanical lift to move them carefully. It usually takes over an hour, whereas a smaller patient can be shifted by one nurse in under 15 minutes.

Due to these high costs and increased risk for liability, many nursing homes are declining care to obese residents. The net result is that many obese patients remain trapped in hospitals because the hospital is not permitted to discharge the patient, except to a nursing home. Whether or not this is a civil rights or discrimination violation remains unknown, this area of law is developing.

If your loved one was injured while receiving care in a nursing home, then you may want to speak with an attorney. Often, the abuse or failure to maintain an adequate standard of care will continue until you speak up and make the nursing home pay attention. Just because your loved one requires additional care, does not mean that they are not entitled to live in a safe and secure environment. It is up to the nursing home to ascertain the best way to provide care, not make excuses.

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