An estimated 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experience adverse events during their stays at skilled nursing facilities, according to a just released report from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General. In addition, the OIG found that 11 percent of Medicare beneficiaries experienced temporary harm events during their SNF stays. Most significantly, 59 percent of these adverse events and temporary harm events "were clearly or likely preventable," the report concluded.

Much of the "preventable harm" was attributed to substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring, and failure or delay of necessary care. And, the report determined that more than half of the residents who experienced harm returned to a hospital for treatment, with an estimated cost to Medicare of $208 million in August 2011 and equating to $2.8 billion spent on hospital treatment for harm caused in SNFs in fiscal 2011.

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