SNF evacuations elevate mortality rate for residents, study finds

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Nursing home residents forced to evacuate due to man-made or natural disasters may face an increased risk of mortality for months following the evacuation, a recently published review shows.

The review, published last week in JAMDA - The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, analyzed 10 studies of nursing home evacuations published between 2010 and 2015. The Australian research team, based at Monash University, said the dearth of research into the effects of evacuation on residents was “surprising considering the elevated risk of mortality post-evacuation.”
The team's analysis found residents' risk of mortality was elevated to 10.5% during the first month post-evacuation, compared to pre-evacuation or sheltering in place. That risk increased to 15.2% risk at 3 months, and reached 16.8% at six months after the evacuation.

The studies included in the review found the most vulnerable residents to be over age 80, frail, dependent, and with multiple comorbidities. Men were more likely than women to be affected, researchers found.

“Evacuation seems to have a negative effect on the survival of nursing home residents independent of the effect of the disaster,” the researchers wrote in JAMDA. “Standard evacuation procedures may be less applicable to this vulnerable population because of extra challenges they face in disasters.”