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Infections in Nursing Homes: A Breeding Ground of Problems

Infections in Nursing Homes: A Breeding Ground of Problems

Millions of U.S. families depend on caretakers in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities to keep their loved ones safe, healthy, and comfortable.

The U.S. has more than 15,600 nursing homes and 28,900 assisted living or similar residential facilities. California alone has 5,900 assisted living communities, more than any other state.

Unfortunately, many residents of these facilities become victims of elder abuse or neglect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define elder abuse as “an intentional act or the failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.”

One way elder abuse or neglect can manifest is when serious infections in nursing homes reoccur or go untreated.

Have You or a Loved One Suffered from Recurring or Untreated Infections?

You may be entitled to compensation to help cover medical care and other expenses. For help navigating your specific case, you can turn to the Peck Law Group. Call 866-999-9085 or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation.

There are several California laws that pertain to abuse and neglect of elderly or dependent adults. California nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are accountable to state entities designed to protect the elderly.

Nursing Homes: A Breeding Ground for Infections

In nursing homes, shared spaces and items, and frequent contact with other residents and staff can all lead to a long list of viral and bacterial infections. Inadequate cleaning and sanitation, lack of attention, poor hygiene, understaffing, or poorly trained staff may contribute to an infection arising, spreading, or going unnoticed or untreated.

As we age, our immune systems become more fragile and less capable of fighting off infections. Because of this, older adults often face more serious — or even deadly — health complications from infections. To make matters worse, elders with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other mental impairments often cannot advocate for themselves and their care.

The Most Common Types of Nursing Home Infections:

Respiratory tract infections / Aspiration Pneumonia

Pneumonia and Aspiration Pneumonia are very common infection in nursing homes and are a leading cause of death among older adults. It can quickly become life-threatening in the elderly, especially those with heart failure or lung problems. Other types of nursing home respiratory infections include coronavirus, sinus infections, influenza, tuberculosis, bronchitis, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Respiratory infections can run rampant in nursing homes, especially with poor cleaning and hygiene. If nursing home staff do not act quickly to provide treatment and contain outbreaks, respiratory tract infections can spread and escalate quickly.

Aspiration Pneumonia, when food and foreign material enter the lungs, can cause death if the Elder is not being closely watched or positioned correctly while drinking and / or eating.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria entering the urethra. UTIs are especially common in nursing homes because many residents use catheters or diapers. Poor hygiene, leaving a catheter in for too long, or being left to sit in their own waste can cause UTIs in elderly individuals. UTIs frequently lead to kidney failure and sepsis.

Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs)

The third most common infection in nursing homes, skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are often a direct result of neglect. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are the number one SSTI in long-term care facilities. Bedsores occur when an elderly or physically incapacitated person are left in one position for more than a few hours, cutting off the skin’s blood supply, and depending on the seriousness of the Bedsore or Pressure Injury, the elder may incur life threatening Sepsis (infection of the blood) and Osteomyelitis.

Other types of SSTIs in nursing homes include diabetic wound infections, staph infections (including MRSA), scabies, herpes zoster (shingles), herpes simplex and more. When neglected by nursing home staff, SSTIs can turn deadly quickly. Nursing homes should prevent SSTIs with proper hygiene and nutrition, helping residents move around when possible, and changing patients’ positions frequently.

Gastrointestinal infections

Gastrointestinal infections can quickly wreak havoc in nursing homes because they are extremely contagious and can be spread through food, water, or other means. Norovirus, gastroenteritis, clostridium difficile (c-diff), foodborne illnesses and other GI infections that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea create a major risk of dehydration and malnutrition for elderly individuals.

How to Pursue Compensation

If you or a loved one has suffered from an infection due suspected abuse or neglect in a California long-term care facility, you may be able to file a lawsuit. With 52+ years of combined experience, the Peck Law Group’s attorneys are prepared to fight for your best possible outcome. Get started with a free case evaluation by calling 866-999-9085 or filling out our free case evaluation form.

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney Steven Peck

About the Author

Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.

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