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Nursing home abuse

Nursing Home Infections

August 24, 2021 by James McHugh, Jr.
Nursing Home Infections

The benefits of modern medical systems are clear; the risks, however, can be deadly. Infections are a devastatingly common risk for those living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and, the infectious pathogens found have only grown stronger, making nursing home infections an increasingly dangerous risk for the already vulnerable elderly and immune-compromised.

Drug-resistant germs affect hundreds of patients in nursing homes each year, as reported by The New York Times. Infections are common in nursing homes and assisted living facilities due to a number of risk factors, including understaffing and lax hygiene. Additionally, the most dangerous nursing home infections – drug-resistant germs – thrive in settings with severely ill and ventilated patients as they are prone to infection and often take multiple antibiotics, which in turn leads to increased drug resistance. Resistant germs can move from bed to bed and from patients to their visiting family and/or facility staff members.

In addition to staffing problems and a lack of hygiene, more than 88% of nursing home residents are over the age of 65 and 45% are greater than 85 years of age. Patients and residents of this age range are more susceptible to infectious diseases because of their increased age, weakened immune systems, and underlying chronic diseases. It is also harder to diagnose and treat them because of their fragility.

Common Nursing Home Infections

Facilities like nursing homes are designed to help care for the elderly who may not be able to care for themselves. However, nursing homes by their nature have inherent risks that all residents and their families need to be aware of. In hospitals, nursing homes, and other group homes, infections are rampant, and the most dangerous types of infection in these facilities are resistant to antibiotics.

While any number of infections can affect the elderly and vulnerable, nursing homes are particularly susceptible to the following infections:

  • Acinetobacter Baumannii
  • Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
  • Cellulitis
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • Erysipelas
  • Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori)
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles)
  • Influenza
  • Scabies
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Necrotizing Fasciitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pressure Ulcers

MRSA In Nursing Homes

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of Staph infection. Staph is incredibly common, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three Americans has some Staph bacteria on their skin. Most types of Staph are harmless to people with healthy immune systems and can easily be treated with medication. MRSA, however, has evolved to become resistant to nearly all types of antibiotics used to treat infections, prompting healthcare providers to refer to MRSA as a “super bug.”

Because healthcare facilities and nursing homes care for people with MRSA infections, the condition can easily be spread to other patients. MRSA can be spread through healthcare workers to other patients, or by sharing medical equipment, personal items, clothing, or bedding. MRSA is very easily spread in communal living settings, so nursing homes and other healthcare facilities have to take precautions to prevent other residents from getting infected.

MRSA is an incredibly difficult infection to treat, particularly for the elderly who may suffer from other medical conditions. While some antibiotics can treat MRSA, infected patients may also have to undergo surgery or other procedures to fight the infection. If left untreated, MRSA can cause dangerous conditions like sepsis, when bacteria infect the bloodstream. Unfortunately for many patients, MRSA proves fatal.

What Nursing Homes Should Do to Reduce Infections

More than 130,500 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in the United States and more than one million residents and staff have gotten sick. This has shown just how vulnerable these facilities are to infections that prey on older adults and hospitalized people.

When a nursing home discovers a patient has contracted an infection, they need to immediately implement isolation procedures to keep infected patients from coming in contact with other patients. This will help prevent the spread of the infection. However, at least one study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found nursing homes only use isolation procedures 13% of the time. Without isolation procedures in place, infections can sweep through nursing homes requiring extensive medical treatment for the residents and even cause death.

In addition to isolation, vaccination, masking, better ventilation, and better training of staff can all help nursing homes prevent the spread of infections. In addition, staff members should use special precautions and personal protective equipment when caring for patients with open wounds, catheters, and/or feeding tubes.

Nursing Home Infection Lawyers

Every day, patients in medical facilities develop severe infections that can have lasting effects and even cause premature death. After contracting an infection, many patients – especially the elderly – suffer significant side effects and complications causing physical pain. In severe cases, patients can be forced to undergo additional invasive procedures. If you suspect that the mishandling of nursing home infections caused an illness or untimely death of a loved one, please contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation today. Our team of elder abuse and nursing home negligence lawyers handles cases throughout the city of Philadelphia and in the surrounding areas. We can conduct a thorough investigation to determine fault and help get the compensation your loved one deserves.

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