Healthcare-associated infections are a significant concern, associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality, hospitalizations, extended hospital stays, and considerable healthcare costs.
Over 1.5 million Americans reside in approximately 16,000 nursing facilities in the United States, with the majority over 65.
It is estimated that 2 million infections in nursing homes occur in the U.S. each year, making this a critical issue that demands attention.
Did your loved one acquire a preventable infection at a nursing home facility?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC legally advocate for nursing home residents harmed by negligent staff members.
Nursing Home Residents and the Prevalence of Infections in Long-Term Care Facilities
Infections are common in nursing homes, with an estimated 2 million conditions reported yearly in U.S. nursing facilities.
The elderly population is particularly susceptible to deadly infections due to the following:
- Indwelling devices
- Recent hospital admissions
- Infected pressure ulcers
- Functional impairments
- Direct contact with other infected elderly patients
- Multiple other illnesses
For instance, residents with feeding tubes are at risk for aspiration pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections, and other mechanical complications.
Furthermore, chronic wound infections and the use of antibiotics are key reasons for the presence of antibiotic-resistant organisms in the care facility.
The Impact of Infection Outbreak in Care Homes
Infections in nursing homes can have severe consequences for residents, leading to:
- Increased morbidity
- Extended hospital stays
The presence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), resistant Gram-negative bacilli, and vancomycin-resistant enterococci further complicates the situation.
These organisms can cause severe infections that are difficult to treat, leading to prolonged illness and, in some cases, death.
Common Types of Infections in Acute Care Hospitals and Nursing Home Facilities
Nursing home residents are susceptible to various infections due to age, underlying health conditions, and the communal living environment.
Urinary Tract Infection Outbreaks
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common infections in nursing homes.
An indwelling catheter increases the risk of bladder infections and bacterial sepsis from urinary tract organisms.
About 3-7 percent of nursing home residents with an indwelling catheter will get a urinary tract infection each day that the catheter remains in place.
Infection: Respiratory Tract
Respiratory diseases, including pneumonia and influenza, are a leading cause of death among nursing home residents.
These infections are also a significant reason behind transfers to the hospital.
The incidence of nursing facility pneumonia is about 0.3-2.3 episodes per 1,000 resident care days, with residents with feeding tubes carrying the highest risk of pneumonia.
Older nursing home patients are especially predisposed to skin and soft tissue infections due to various changes in the skin as a result of aging.
Skin infections include the atrophy of the dermis and epidermis, decreased resistance to external insults, and prolonged wound healing times.
Dry, itchy skin can be an entry point for bacteria that can infect the skin.
Gastrointestinal infections are a common cause of illness in nursing homes.
Older adults do not produce enough gastric acid and are at a greater risk of developing infectious gastroenteritis.
Norovirus, a highly contagious virus, is a common cause of dehydration and gastroenteritis in nursing home residents.
Respiratory Infections: Influenza and Pneumonia
Influenza and pneumonia are common and severe infections in nursing homes.
Aspiration pneumonia, often related to difficulties in feeding and poor oral hygiene, is also common among the nursing home population.
Causes and Risk Factors
Various factors contribute to the high prevalence of infections in nursing homes.
Poor Infection Control Practices
Poor infection control practices can contribute to the spread of infections in nursing homes.
This includes inadequate hand hygiene, improper use of personal protective equipment, and poor cleaning and disinfection practices.
Understaffing and Negligence
Understaffing and negligence can also contribute to the spread of infections.
When nursing homes are understaffed, employees may be rushed and unable to properly follow infection prevention and control protocols.
Additionally, negligence on the part of the staff or the facility can lead to unsanitary conditions that promote the spread of infections.
The Consequences of Nursing Home Infections
Infections in nursing homes can have serious consequences for residents.
Infections can lead to serious health complications, including sepsis, organ damage, and death.
Additionally, infections can worsen existing health conditions and lead to prolonged illness and recovery.
Emotional and Psychological Impact
In addition to physical health complications, infections can significantly impact residents emotionally and psychologically.
The experience of being ill, along with the isolation that often comes with serious infection prevention measures, can lead to feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression.
Atypical Symptoms and Over-Diagnosed Infections in Long-Term Care Facilities
In the unique environment of long-term care facilities, common infections often present with atypical medical condition symptoms, leading to a high rate of over-diagnosed infections.
This is particularly true in the nursing home setting, where risk factors such as pressure ulcers can lead to skin infections, a common infection type.
Furthermore, severe infections like Clostridium difficile are common, with numerous outbreaks reported in these facilities and acute care hospitals.
Proper medical treatment is crucial to prevent secondary infections.
Moreover, maintaining good oral health is essential to prevent diarrheal diseases among nursing facility patients.
Over-diagnosed infection is a significant concern, as it can lead to unnecessary treatments and increased healthcare costs.
Furthermore, skin infections can often lead to complications, resulting in a secondary infection.
Therefore, it’s imperative to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment to prevent such complications.
Legal Rights and Remedies for Victims
Residents and their families may have legal recourse when infections occur due to negligence.
The Role of Negligence in Legal Claims
Negligence plays a crucial role in legal claims related to nursing facility infections.
If a nursing home fails to follow proper infection prevention and control protocols or understaffing leads to inadequate care, the facility may be liable for any resulting infections.
Seeking Legal Help
Seeking legal help can be important for victims of nursing home infections and their families.
A lawyer can help victims understand their rights, gather evidence, and pursue a legal compensation claim.
Prevention and Control of Infections in Nursing Homes
Preventing and controlling infections in nursing homes is critical to protect residents and improve their quality of life.
Importance of Hygiene and Sanitation
Good hygiene and sanitation practices are important for preventing infections in nursing homes.
This includes regular hand hygiene, proper cleaning and disinfection of the environment and medical equipment, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.
Role of Vaccinations
Vaccinations are vital in preventing certain infections, such as influenza and pneumonia.
Ensuring that each resident is up-to-date on their influenza vaccination can help support their immune system and reduce the prevalence of other infections in nursing homes, including the following:
- Infections in the upper and lower respiratory tract
- Diabetic wound infections
- Staph infections
- Clostridium difficile infections
- Soft tissue infection
- Infectious diarrhea
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Gastroenteritis outbreaks
- Vascular ulcers
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
- Herpes zoster
Staff Training and Education
Staff training and education are crucial for infection prevention and control.
Staff should be trained on proper infection prevention and control protocols, including hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfection practices.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Are you a victim of a nursing facility infection due to negligence?
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Our legal team can provide a free consultation, work on a contingency fee basis, and be reached at (888) 424-5757.
We can help with the following:
- Evaluating your case and determining if you have a valid claim
- Gathering evidence to support your claim
- Negotiating with the nursing facility and their insurance company
- Representing you in court, if necessary
You have rights and deserve compensation for any harm caused by negligence in a nursing facility.
Don’t hesitate to seek legal help if you or a loved one has suffered from a nursing home infection.