Nursing Homes With High Numbers Of Patients With Serious Mental Illness Have Worse Outcomes: Study

Residents in nursing homes with a large number of residents that have serious mental illnesses are more likely to suffer serious side effects and death, even if they themselves do not have mental illness, according to the findings of a new study that highlights factors that may impact the nursing home complication risks.

Just being admitted to a facility that serves more patients with serious mental illnesses was linked to an increased risk of needing a feeding tube, requiring hospitalization or needing a catheter, according to Harvard researchers.

In findings published this week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers used data from the 2006-2010 Medicare claims and nursing home information from online surveys, certification, and reporting databases. They compared more than 58,000 nursing home residents with a serious mental illness to 559,000 nursing home residents without a serious mental illness diagnosis.

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Researchers calculated the likelihood of a patient experiencing different serious outcomes after being admitted to a high-serious mental illness facility (high-SMI).

The study categorized a nursing home as a high-serious mental illness facility if the proportion of patients with serious mental illnesses was at least 10%. Those included patients with diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses.

Patients with a serious mental illness being admitted to a high-SMI facility had a 4% increased risk of needing a feeding tube compared to patients admitted to low-SMI facilities.

Furthermore, patients without a serious mental illness who were admitted to a high-SMI facility face a 2% increased risk of needing a catheter, a 4% increased risk of requiring hospitalization, and a 2% increased risk of having a feeding tube put in place.

Facilities where more patients needed treatment for serious mental illnesses may find their resources stretched and nurses may be caring for multiple patients who need specialized care at the same time.

“Admission to nursing homes with high concentrations of residents with SMI is associated with worse outcomes for both residents with and without SMI,” the researchers concluded.

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