Can You Sue a Nursing Home For a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
While a urinary tract infection (UTI) seems common, it can be anything but when it impacts nursing home residents who are already weakened from their health conditions.
These conditions can end a senior's life or cause lasting damage. The sad thing is that many UTIs are entirely preventable, and they only happen because nursing home staff do not do their job.
When your family member has been injured by nursing home neglect, we can help.
Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to schedule your free case review and learn how you can file a wrongful death case or a lawsuit for nursing home negligence.
The Nursing Home May Be Negligent, Causing a Urinary Tract Infection
In some cases, urinary tract infections are an example of nursing home negligence. Of course, it is true that anyone can get a urinary tract infection. Many cases of a UTI are unavoidable, and they are not negligence.
Because of their age and their health, a nursing home resident is far more susceptible than the average person to a urinary tract infection.
Accordingly, nursing homes and assisted living facilities must be more vigilant about infection prevention.
This extends beyond just urinary health and to the entire facility. Hygiene and cleanliness are a must in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Nursing Home Infection Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control has a wide range of estimates for the number of nursing home residents who get infections each year.
According to the CDC, 1 to 3 million nursing home residents will develop serious infections each year.
These infections can be:
- Pressure sores
- Urinary tract infections
- Staph infections
These are life threatening conditions and can require emergency care. In some cases, a nursing home patient will die from a UTI.
Higher Risks of Urinary Tract Infections
Many seniors in nursing homes require catheters because of their medical conditions. Unfortunately, catheters will increase the risk of a UTI because it leads to more bacteria in the urinary tract.
The elderly are subject to frequent hospitalizations because of their other medical conditions, meaning that they need catheters more often and are less mobile to use the bathroom on their own when necessary.
In addition, seniors may be taking numerous types of medications that could raise the risk of a UTI or have other types of comorbidities.
Caring for Nursing Home Residents
The best way to prevent a urinary tract infection is for nursing home staff to be vigilant about a resident's hygiene. They should be frequently changed and showered.
Staff should not always wait for an accident. When they know that a resident has issues with incontinence, they should set a regular schedule for that patient to use the toilet.
Nursing home residents with conditions such as dementia are not able to inform staff when they must use the bathroom and end up prone to having accidents.
Ensuring Urinary System Health
Dehydration also plays a role in a urinary tract infection. Nursing home residents should drink plenty of fluids to ensure their medical health.
Many nursing home residents are given cranberry juice because of the positive effects that it has on urinary health.
Research is split on whether dehydration is a risk factor for a UTI. Recently, more researchers are coming down on the side of lack of fluid intake increasing the chances of a UTI.
One study showed that proper hydration can reduce the chances of a UTI requiring antibiotics by up to 58% and the chances of hospitalization from a UTI by up to 36%.
How Urinary Tract Infections Develop
In the case of nursing homes, a failure to change the resident can lead to a UTI. Urine has bacteria in it, and when it is against the skin for a prolonged period of time (when staff does not change the resident's briefs after an accident), the bacteria can reenter the bladder, causing an infection.
A nursing home resident is already dealing with a weakened immune system because of their advancing age and health.
Any type of bacteria will be far more likely to cause an infection, especially in those with weakened immune systems.
Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections
Here are some of the early signs that a nursing home resident may be dealing with a urinary tract infection:
- A continuous strong urge to urinate
- A feeling of burning when urinating
- Urinating often but with little urine
- Urine with a cloudy appearance
- Urine with a bright red appearance
- Urine that has a strong odor
Even if the resident is not able to alert staff on their own that they are experiencing these symptoms, this is something that staff should notice on their own.
Any one of these symptoms should be a cue to staff and doctors.
Treating a Urinary Tract Infection
When nursing home staff detect the symptoms of a UTI, they should administer treatment in conjunction with the resident's doctor.
Most UTI treatments will involve a regimen of drugs. The type of drug and where it is administered depends on the severity of the infection.
If the resident has developed a serious UTI, they will need to receive steady antibiotics in a hospital until the risk of sepsis has passed and the infection has subsided.
Nursing home staff must continuously monitor the infection to see if additional medical attention is needed.
When to Seek Medical Care for a UTI
Nursing home staff should seek medical attention for the UTI when the resident begins to experience the following symptoms:
For many seniors, they are left to deal with an untreated UTI because the staff that is tasked with taking care of them fails to either spot the signs of an infection or do anything about it.
Many seniors, because of their medical conditions, are unable to speak up that they are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection, including the painful urination.
The Effects of an Untreated UTI
Left untreated, a UTI can advance like any other infection. The worst possible side effect is that the UTI can spread to one or both of the kidneys.
Eventually, a serious infection can cause sepsis and septic shock. In fact, one in every three cases of sepsis in the U.S. are caused by sepsis.
Once the resident goes into septic shock, they may experience the following:
- Abnormally low blood pressure
- Decreased urine output
- Extremely high fever
- Trouble breathing
The older the nursing home resident, the lower the survival rate from septic shock.
One study found that only one in five people over the age of 80 who reach this stage will survive. Other research shows the fatality rate of sepsis in residents to be between 50-60%.
Infections Can Weaken Nursing Home Residents
Even if a nursing home resident recovers from a serious infection, it takes a lot out of their body.
There are only so many times that an elderly resident can bounce back physically from something as serious as an infection. Even one serious infection can affect their immune systems for the rest of their life.
Sepsis is a life threatening infection. Many residents may never fully recover from it, even if they survive the initial danger.
It is not uncommon for the aftereffects of sepsis to cut months, or years, from your loved one's life expectancy.
Failing to Prevent a UTI Can Be Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes have a legal obligation to their residents to help them maintain proper hygiene and assist them with activities of daily life. The failure to prevent a urinary tract infection can be a sign of negligence.
In any nursing home negligence case, the legal standard is whether the nursing home acted as a reasonable facility would have done under the circumstances.
A reasonable nursing home would care for its residents and then act when it noticed the signs and symptoms of a UTI.
What You Must Prove When Suing a Nursing Home
The standard in any nursing home lawsuit is whether the nursing home was negligent. Here, you will need to prove that the nursing home did (or did not do) that led to your loved one's injuries.
Some of the evidence may be found in your loved one's medical records. Working in conjunction with experts, our law firm can help you prove that the nursing home did not take the required measures to protect your loved one's urinary system from infection.
In any nursing home neglect lawsuit, you must prove that the nursing home did not do what was necessary to keep your loved one safe.
While it is well-understood that elderly nursing home residents can develop infections and get sick, it is also understood that nursing home staff must care for them regularly throughout the day and cannot do something as callous as leaving them soaked in their own urine or failing to give them the necessary liquids throughout the day.
Damages in a Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit
If your loved one suffered an injury from a urinary tract infection that developed and was untreated because of the negligence of the nursing home, you may be entitled to the following damages:
- Medical bills to treat the condition
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages if your loved one died
- Possible punitive damages depending on the extent of the nursing home's negligence
Contact Us for a Free Case Review
Our law firm can help you when a family member has been injured by nursing home abuse or negligence.
We offer the legal help that you need to hold nursing homes accountable when their actions have harmed your family member.
Your family can receive financial compensation when a nursing home or assisted living facility has breached its legal obligation to care for your loved one.
First, you must file a lawsuit against the nursing home for their negligence that led to the injury.
The law firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has a long track record of helping families just like yours.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.
Our law firm will work closely with you as you seek justice from the nursing home or assisted living facility that harmed your loved one.