Nursing Homes and Infections

Several types of infections are common in nursing homes.  However, there are many procedures that a nursing home can and should employ to prevent and contain infections promptly and effectively.    Failure to do so can lead to grave injuries or death giving rise to a possible personal injury lawsuit.

Nursing homes, if staff is not properly trained, can become breeding grounds for dangerous infections.  Nursing homes are places where a large number of people live in a single space and several daily activities take place in a group setting such as eating meals, exercise, and entertainment.

Nursing home residents also usually suffer from conditions or take medications that make them more susceptible to infection.  Other residents have cognitive and mobility issues that prevent them from taking care of their personal hygiene.  Unfortunately, nursing homes are often understaffed and employees are often not adequately  trained on the basics of infection prevention and containment.

Urinary infections are the most common infection among long-term care patients.  However, nursing home residents also suffer from respiratory (such as influenza), skin and soft tissue, and gastrointestinal infections.

It is commonly estimated that as many as one third of nursing home residents suffer from urinary tract infections.  Nursing home residents are more likely to develop urinary tract infections because many are immobile and forced to use bedpans, others require the use of catheters, and still other residents may have disabilities that interfere with personal hygiene.  Some types of urinary tract infections require no treatment while other more complicated types require antibiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 90% of deaths caused by influenza are in patients over 65 years old.  As institutional settings, nursing homes are at particular risk for outbreaks of influenza.  Beyond the fact that seniors are at greater risk for contagion, nursing home residents are exposed to many other residents, visitors, staff, and volunteers.

Scabies breakouts are also common in nursing homes.  Scabies, caused by parasitic mites, is a contagious skin infection passed on by personal contact.  Scabies epidemics can be widespread among the nursing home facility and can be long-lasting because there is usually a delay in diagnosis and recognizing the dangers of infection.  Other skin infections common in nursing homes are bedsores which can be extremely dangerous.

Finally gastrointestinal infections are also widespread in many nursing homes.  Like many other infections, seniors are especially at risk when contracting a gastrointestinal infection.  According to a study by the Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, over 80% of deaths from Clostridium difficile (C. dif) , a common gastrointestinal infection, occurs in patients age 65 or older.

Nursing homes have the responsibility to prevent and contain infections.  Frequent, widespread, or unusual infections may signal negligence on the part of the nursing home.  While many infections may be difficult to prevent, nursing homes have the responsibility to contain and manage an infection properly.  Anything less may signal negligence on the part of the facility.  That is why if you suspect that a loved one is the victim of negligence at a nursing home, it is indispensable to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediatelyRelated Reading:

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