ACU professor exposes elderly mistreatment in hospitals

Australian Catholic University Professor Tracey McDonald has a uncovered a disturbing picture of the poor treatment of elderly Australians whilst undergoing treatment in the hospital system.

In a survey of 370 nursing homes accross Australia, Professor McDonald has discovered the majority reported multiple cases of their residents being mistreated while in hospital.

Some nursing homes have resorted to taking photographs of their residents before and after their hospital visit to prove the mistreatment.

The Aged Care Association commissioned a report - written by Prof McDonald - to investigate widespread anecdotal evidence coming from nursing home about the mistreatment of their residents

"People were coming back from hospital in pretty terrible condition nutritionally, with skin wounds, pressure sores, more confused than when they left, and sedated, " Prof McDonald told ABC radio.

"Sometimes the medication issues were a problem, not so much from the doctor's prescribing, but people discharged late on a Friday evening and no medication sent with them. Trying to access supplies and medications was very difficult," she said.

Prof McDonald also revealed that the practice of discharging elderly patients at inappropriate times was widespread.

"Putting people in their 90s into a taxi from a hospital and arriving two and three o'clock in the morning to a hostel where there was no one there to receive them."

Aged Care Association's Rod Young said the problems were "systemic" and the survey confirmed it was an issue across the whole of Australia.

"It is unfortunate, but it does certainly confirm the reality and something which we believe now that needs to be dealt with in a constructive way between the hospital system and residential care. We need a joint approach with Health Minster Tony Abbott," Mr Young said.

However, Health Minister Tony Abbott was quick to shift the blame to the States saying that Labor need to lift their game when it comed to running public hospitals.

Poor hospital care of nursing home residents: survey (ABC Radio AM 19/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic University - Health Sciences

ACU to establish Chair of Ageing (CathNews, 03/08/04)

22 Oct 2007