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Elderly care is inadequate, especially in nursing homes

The quality of medical care that elderly patients receive, particularly those in nursing homes, is inadequate, concludes researchers in this week's BMJ.

The study looked at 698 elderly individuals in Bristol, of whom 172 were residents in nursing homes and 526 were living at home. All were aged 65 years or over. The quality of care given to both groups was measured against recognised quality indicators.

The overall standard of care was inadequate when judged against the quality indicators, irrespective of where patients lived. Those living in nursing homes received poorer care than those living at home, say the authors.

Inadequate care took several different forms: insufficient use of beneficial drugs, poor monitoring of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and overuse of inappropriate or unnecessary drugs. For example, nursing home residents were almost three times as likely to receive a laxative as those living at home.

Although the study was undertaken in one city, the results may reflect the situation in the UK as a whole, say the authors. More co-ordinated care for elderly patients is needed to avoid these problems, they conclude.

 
 

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