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Elderly Face Barriers to Health Care in America

A new study makes offers some solemn conclusions about health care availability for elderly Americans living in rural areas. The research, which was conducted by Leah Goers of the University of Oregon, concluded that elderly Americans who live in rural areas are at an increased risk of health complications and death due to their lack of access to good healthcare. When a person experiences health complication as a direct result of proper care, he or she may have a medical malpractice claim for damages.

The Study

The study, which was written about in, considered 296 adults living in rural and urban parts of Oregon, all of whom were over the age of 84. They found that, despite the old age of all participants involved, those older adults who were living in rural areas had higher rates of chronic disease than did those living in urban areas. What’s more, those living in rural areas also took more medications and had a shorter average lifespan (seven years versus 3.5 years).

The types of medications that the elderly persons living in rural areas were more likely to take was also concerning. Compared to those living in urban areas, seniors in urban areas were more likely to take narcotic painkillers and medications for high blood pressure, but were less likely to take medications for bone health.

Why the Disparity?

One of the reasons that the seniors living in rural areas were more likely to be in poorer health has to do with the fact that many of them had risk factors for chronic disease. These risk factors include living in poverty, having a low level of education, being female, and having a history of chronic disease.

But in addition to a predisposition based on the above risk factors, rural areas are also plagued with fewer physicians and fewer specialists, which means that the physicians and specialists who do work in the areas have a higher caseload. This means that patients who are suffering from health complications may not receive adequate or timely treatment when compared to patients in urban areas, complicating the health condition or leading to its progression. When patients do not have access to quality health care, they are almost sure to suffer as a result.

Medical Malpractice and Patient Harm

While there may indeed be a lack of health care professionals in more rural areas of the United States, when patients do seek care—elderly or otherwise—they deserve to be treated with high standards. Failing to properly treat a patient due to a lack of time or a high number of other patients is not excusable, and is an act of medical malpractice. If you or an elderly loved one has suffered harm as a direct result of malpractice in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. today. We will advocate on your behalf when you have not received the health care to which you are entitled. To schedule your free case consultation, use our online form or contact us via phone at (215) 567-3500.


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