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Nursing home evacuations can increase death rates

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc along the coast and the full extent of damage is still unknown. One of the silent risks of this type of storm is the aftermath caused by relocation. According to a recent study, nursing home patients who are relocated during an evacuation can be put in grave danger and even suffer fatalities because of ill-prepared organizations and agencies. The most vulnerable residents often suffer because of systematic flaw and failed agency guidelines in the relocation of patients.

Researchers tracked residents living in nursing homes along the Gulf Coast within 30 days of an evacuation finding a 218% spike in mortality rates among patients with dementia and a 158% increase in deaths within 90 days of the evacuation. During Hurricane Katrina, there were 140 patients that drowned in nursing homes. The study cited failures in the evacuation process that can compromise patient health and safety in New Haven, Connecticut and nationwide.

Though no clear reasons were cited for the spike in death rates, the authors suggest that there is a failure to address the dangers associated with dementia, depression, anxiety and the mental issues associated with evacuation. Many facilities did not have appropriate resources, including an adequate water supply, for patients.

Dangerous conditions can arise from compounding issues including displacement, lack of resources, as well as emergencies including gas leaks and fires. Hospitals and nursing homes as well as government agencies must plan for future natural disaster to protect patients and prevent fatalities after a storm. Authorities are urging a streamlined process to minimize injury or wrongful death during a nursing home evacuation.

If someone you love has been injured or suffered early death because of a negligent evacuation, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced attorney can investigate your case and pursue maximum compensation on behalf of a loved one.

Source: USA Today, "Deaths rose after nursing home evacuations," Janice Lloyd, Nov. 15, 2012

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