Emergency room fix: elder fall prevention

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Mother, daughter dead after apparent murder-suicide at San Francisco nursing home
Mother, daughter dead after apparent murder-suicide at San Francisco nursing home
Each year, nearly 500,000 nursing home residents are rushed to emergency departments. Better preventive care could eliminate many of these trips, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nursing homes can reduce emergency department visits primarily by enhancing their fall-prevention efforts, a new report from the CDC asserts.

Investigators found of those transported to the ED in the last 90 days, 40,000 had a potentially preventable visit. Many residents had repeat visits in that period.

Other preventable reasons cited for admissions: fever, chest pain, heart disease (primarily heart failure), mental status changes, gastrointestinal bleeding and urinary tract infections.

Some experts believe the actual number of emergency room visits may be higher. Data for this study came from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey.