Yes, nursing home residents are at risk of developing infections. Nursing home residents are at risk of developing infections due to their increasing age, lowered immune systems, and unfortunately, the negligence of the nursing home staff to properly and quickly identify infections.
Common Types of Nursing Home Infections
The most common types of nursing home infections include urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, Clostridium difficile (CDI), skin and soft tissue infections, sexually transmitted infections, and influenza.
UTIs in older adults residing in nursing homes are very common. These infections develop as a result of an indwelling catheter. Nursing home residents with catheters are most at risk for developing infections. Often, the elderly residents of nursing homes have limited mobility and decreased organ function, which can make infections prevalent and more deadly. When the bacteria from the urinary tract enters the bloodstream, the infection can prove fatal.
If you’re worried about the high risk of infection in nursing homes, pneumonia should be the main concern. Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death of nursing home residents. While patients with feeding tubes typically have a higher rate of pneumonia, any nursing home resident is susceptible to this infection due to its ability to spread quickly among a nursing home population.
Adding more difficulty is that elderly patients may not get a fever with their pneumonia or may not tell anyone of their symptoms. Every nursing home facility should have an X-ray machine that could quickly and easily diagnose pneumonia. Nursing home staff should also know the symptoms and act quickly when pneumonia occurs in a resident.
CDI is an abdominal and gastrointestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea. With the increased use of antibiotics, this infection is common, as the antibiotics kill almost all bacteria in a patient’s digestive system, including the good bacteria that could combat CDI. This highly resistant infection grows and can become life-threatening. The rampant and exaggerated use of antibiotics in nursing homes has left many patients with the inability to have their own immune systems fight this dangerous infection.
Skin and Soft Tissue Infections
With increased age comes the decreased ability for skin to protect itself. Some common infections found in nursing home residents are Group A Streptococcus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as GAS and MRSA, respectively. These infections can cause severe damage to internal organs when they enter through the skin and soft tissue. Exposure to these infections is common in nursing homes, but preventable through good hygiene practices and careful observation from nursing home staff.
Each year thousands of people die from influenza, commonly known as the flu. Elderly people and influenza are a dangerous mix because it can cause severe complications and death due to their weakened immune systems. Nursing homes present unique challenges for the elderly as they live in close quarters and without proper disinfection, so this infection can spread rapidly.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
One of the more common infections in nursing homes is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many elderly residents believe that STDs are not possible and with the introduction of medications such as Cialis and Viagra, this type of infection is on the rise in nursing homes. These elderly residents did not live in a time when STDs were part of the common culture and therefore may not be as informed about their ability to contract these infections.
Infections and Sepsis
When ay nursing home resident has an infection, there is a possibility that the infection could become septic. Sepsis is when a body’s immune system overreacts to an infection causing severe inflammation that can lead to life-threatening injuries or death. Considering the prevalence of infections in nursing homes, the staff should always be aware of any possible symptoms of infection that appear septic. The symptoms of sepsis include the following:
- High, sometimes low, body temperature with chills.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Rapid breathing.
- Probable or confirmed infection.
Sepsis can become severe or even deadly if not treated immediately. If your elderly loved one has any kind of infection, the nursing home staff should monitor them closely to ensure that no infection becomes septic.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
If you’re asking is there a high risk for infection in nursing homes because you’re worried about a loved one, you should contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. There are several types of infections that can spread quickly in nursing homes, due to close quarters of residents, as well as most elderly residents suffering from weakened immune systems.
If you believe your elderly loved one suffered from any kind of infection or sepsis due to a nursing home’s negligence, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your legal rights. We take on tough cases and work on a contingency basis, so you only pay attorney fees when you recover compensation.