Neglected care facilities linked to high risk of hip fractures

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It might seem reasonable to assume that those residing in care facilities would receive top-notch attention and care. However, recent research challenges this assumption by revealing concerning findings from the past.

A study delving into skeletal remains has uncovered that individuals who lived in public care facilities in America from 1910 to 1967 had a nearly doubled risk of hip fractures compared to those not in such institutions. Alarmingly, many of these fractures resulted in preventable deaths.

This study was led by Madeleine Mant from the University of Toronto and others.

The team analyzed 600 skeletons housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., representing people who, in death, became largely forgotten, either due to the absence of family or financial constraints preventing a proper burial.

Their findings were stark: 4.3% of individuals in care institutions suffered from broken hips, in contrast to just 2.3% within the general population.

These injuries often stemmed from seemingly avoidable incidents, such as falls from wheelchairs or trips on poorly maintained floors. Notably, a staggering 82% of hip fractures leading to death occurred within these care settings.

The study illuminates two critical issues. The first is termed “structural violence,” indicating that the institutions’ inherent flaws—stemming from inadequate funding, neglect, and substandard staffing—indirectly inflicted harm on their residents.

The second issue, “cultural apathy,” suggests a societal indifference towards addressing these problems.

This research is not merely a window into a troubling aspect of history; it resonates with contemporary concerns.

Mant points out that these issues persist today, particularly within Canadian care facilities, with similar problems reported in other countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland.

A distressing example from Canada involved a woman in an Oakville, Ontario, nursing home who suffered severe, unexplained thigh fractures at the time of her death.

The study serves as a call to action, urging a reevaluation of care facilities’ standards and advocating for the basic human right to quality care for the vulnerable.

Mant hopes the research will raise awareness among those unaware of these issues and prompt accountability among those who have neglected to address them.

This problem transcends history and geography, representing a global challenge that demands attention and action to ensure the well-being and dignity of individuals in care facilities worldwide.

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The findings of this critical study were published in PLOS ONE, emphasizing the urgency of addressing care quality in facilities across the globe.

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