Why Do People Get Infections in Nursing Homes?

shutterstock_16983095711-300x200Placing a loved one in a nursing home can feel like a great solution. You don’t have to worry about them being home alone where they can’t do things for themselves. However, there are many issues to worry about when they do make the transition to a nursing home. One of the unfortunate things that accompanies these living conditions is the high risk of infection. Read on to learn about why this is such a hazardous environment and what nursing homes should be doing to prevent infections.

Risk Factors for Infections in Nursing Homes

There are various reasons why nursing home residents are likely to get infections, including the following:

  • Age: As a person ages, their immune system becomes weaker and less effective. Because of the advanced age of a typical nursing home resident, they are obviously, at a higher risk of infection than their younger counterparts. Another risk factor that comes with age is the fact that devices many residents need, including pacemakers and artificial hips carry high risks of infection. Additionally, yet another age factor is that some residents suffer from cognitive impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This can make it less likely for them to remember to practice good hygiene; infection may occur as a result.
  • Treatment Resistant: This refers to nursing home residents having multiple diseases at once. By having numerous diseases simultaneously, the afflicted residents often take antibiotics. The increase in antibiotics can lead to a resistance to these drugs. Thus, healing becomes even more difficult.
  • Group Living Quarters: Due to the close proximity of other residents, an individual is likely to have a higher chance of coming in close contact with someone who has an infection and getting that infection in turn.

 What Infections are Common in Nursing Homes?

  • Diarrheal: viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, norovirus
  • Respiratory infections: influenza, pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia
  • Skin and soft tissue: bed sores, scabies, ulcers, wound infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

 What Can Nursing Homes Do to Prevent Infections?

Nursing home staff are aware of the increased possibility of infections in their facilities. Not only should they make a good effort to prevent infections by keeping reliable electronic records to access risk data easily and maintaining strict hygiene protocols, but Medicare and Medicaid accepting nursing homes, are required to apply infection and control programs.

Additionally, there are other risk-reducing measures to take:

  • Hire infection preventionists;
  • Conduct infection control committee meetings; and/or
  • Establish reliable antibiotic tracking systems.

Protect Your Loved Ones from Nursing Home Infections

While there is a high risk of infection in nursing homes, it’s up to the administrators to ensure that procedures are in place to avoid them as much as possible. If you think that a nursing home has neglected standards to prevent infection or that your loved one has otherwise suffered from neglect, get in touch with a Walton Law attorney to explore your options. Contact us today.

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