Infections are very common in the setting of long-term care facilities and represent a major cause of death among nursing home residents. Due to increased hospital admission costs and a rise in ICU hospital admissions, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are housing sicker and more disease susceptible patients. As a result, the frequency of infection in long term care residents is on the rise.
Leading Causes of Nursing Home Illnesses
Because older individuals often have weakened immune systems, infections that wouldn’t necessarily cause a big problem in the general population can cause serious illness in an elderly person. Accordingly, facilities must always be ready to deliver high−quality medical care to their residents.
Studies have estimated that 1.5 to 2 million infections occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities each year. Some of the most common types of infections to occur in nursing homes are:
– Skin and soft tissue infections
– Urinary tract infections
– Respiratory tract infections
– Bacterial pneumonia
– Gastrointestinal infections
Nursing homes and long care facilities are prone to the spread of infection due to several common characteristics, such as residents being clustered in confined living spaces and participating in frequent group activities. Some residents are unable to perform basic hygiene due to cognitive impairment. Moreover, many residents have co-morbid underlying conditions that predispose them to infection.
Infection Control Lacking with Nursing Home Staff
Nursing home caregivers, who are frequently CNAs, are often inadequately trained and have little knowledge of proper infection control methods. In general, nursing homes have fewer resources in personnel, expertise, and diagnostic or support services than hospital intensive care units. Access to physicians is limited in nursing homes due to reimbursement practices that restrict the frequency of physician attendance for patients in long term care facilities. Moreover, medical charts are less thorough and may not be useful for identification of infection.
For the above described reasons, patient infections in long term care facilities may spread unjustifiably or go unnoticed and untreated, resulting in great harm to the patient. If something like this has happened to you or a loved one, you may need the services of a nursing home abuse lawyer in your area.