Adverse events (AEs) occur frequently in nursing homes (NHs). Although the literature identifies several AE risk factors, the effect of resident transition on AE risk is less well defined. This article is the first to describe how AE risk varies across several NH transition periods and to define the most vulnerable junctures of an NH stay.
This research was conducted on the population of NH residents in Manitoba, Canada, from April 1, 1999, to March 31, 2004. AEs were captured using physician-based diagnostic claims for hip fractures, other fractures, hospitalized falls, skin ulcers, and respiratory infections. AE rates were compared across several transition periods (eg, following first NH admission from hospital versus elsewhere, after NH transfer, and preceding resident death), before and after adjustment for several resident demographic, clinical, and facility-level factors.
Although residents (n = 22,846) spent only 6.6% of all NH days in transition, between 15.3% (skin ulcers) and 27.8% (respiratory infections) of AEs occurred during these times. Except following NH transfers, adjusted AE rates were consistently higher during all transition versus nontransition periods. Among transition periods, adjusted hip fractures, hospitalized falls, and respiratory infections were most strongly associated with resident death. Adjusted skin ulcer and non-hip fracture rates were equally highest during "pre-death" and for new residents admitted from hospital.
This article is the first to identify the most vulnerable times of a NH stay. For newly admitted residents, our results also show that previous exposure to a hospital environment, and not simply resident illness, at least partially contributes to increased AE risk. This and additional evidence can help clinicians and administrators to better identify periods of high risk for NH residents, and also to develop more targeted care improvement strategies. More robust and frequently obtained measures of resident illness are required to further examine these issues in more detail.