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Infections in Nursing Homes

infection-nursing-home-lawsuitWas your loved one severely injured or killed by a preventable infection while residing in a nursing home? At the Nursing Home Law Center, our personal injury attorneys can provide immediate legal representation to stop the abuse now.

Call our legal team at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation. Let us hold those responsible for the preventable infection legally and financially accountable by obtaining the justice and financial compensation you deserve.

Severe Infections in Nursing Homes

Every year, more than 800,000 Americans are injured in nursing homes. The injuries can range from a simple cut to a serious infection. Infectious diseases are difficult to fight off and lead to even more complications and delays in healing for the patient.

With this alarming statistic, it is imperative that every person who enters a nursing home be educated on how these infections can be avoided and what precautions should be taken when interacting with someone who has been infected.

There are things you should do to avoid getting an infection while at the hospital or visiting someone at the hospital, including:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching anything
  • Cover any open wounds or sores by using gloves and use clean sheets if necessary
  • Make sure you do not share anything such as water, towels, sheets, or utensils
  • Visit for a short time and take care of yourself and your family by getting enough rest
  • Another important factor to staying healthy interacting with healthy people in your daily environment

The most common way infectious diseases spread through long-term care facilities is from other nursing home residents. Many times these people may not know they are infected. They may be hiding their symptoms not to get any special treatment or taken away from the family members visiting them.

How Do You Know If Someone Is Carrying An Infection?

If you have been injured recently and wonder if someone is carrying an infection, here are some things to consider. First, it's important to know that people who carry infections do not show any symptoms generally. Second, there are a few ways to check for signs of infection:

  • Checking the person's skin or scalp for redness or lesions
  • Examining their eyes for discharge
  • Checking their nose and mouth for signs of swelling
  • Feeling their neck and lower back (where lymph nodes would be) just below the ribs

If you're concerned about whether someone has an infection from something they may have touched while helping you out after your injury—like bandages or clothing—take care of yourself first!

You may not realize that your injury could be the start of a dangerous infection. An infected wound can lead to sepsis, which is often fatal if left untreated. So when you notice any signs or symptoms like fever, excessive sweating, confusion, and increased heart rate, it's important to get medical attention right away.

There are some things you should do before seeking treatment to help prevent an infection from starting in the first place, including:

  • Clean wounds with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap after touching wounds or anything else that might contain bacteria
  • Cover all open wounds with sterile dressings while waiting for medical attention
  • Avoid sharing utensils and drinking glasses if possible

If you are still unsure if someone has an infection, check out this helpful guide. Taking precautions can ensure that your stay in a nursing home is as safe and healthy as possible for everyone involved.

Serious Infections and Outbreaks Occurring in Long-Term Care Facilities

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that serious infections and outbreaks are occurring in long-term care facilities. These include a higher rate of infection with C-difficile, MRSA, Tuberculosis, and other bacteria.

The CDC has recommended taking measures to prevent these infections, resulting in death or hospitalization for nursing home residents who have compromised immune systems.

How Infections Spread In Nursing Homes

In nursing homes, infections can spread quickly. When one person gets sick, it is easy for others in the same environment to get infected. In addition, the risk of infection becomes greater as people age and their immune systems weaken.

Prevention starts with understanding how germs are transmitted and what you can do to protect yourself from infection. What you can do to prevent infection in a nursing home:

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth before washing their hands with soap and water.
  • Be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before eating or putting on gloves and after changing soiled dressings, using the bathroom, moving a patient, or cleaning up blood or other body fluids.
  • Clean surfaces that may be contaminated with germs (e.g., doorknobs) frequently by using an EPA-registered disinfectant. These can be found in most grocery stores.
  • Use sterile or clean towels after vomiting, bowel movements, or coughing with a tissue instead of using your sleeve and throw them away in a covered trash can. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Wash sheets, towels, and clothing that have touched the infected person's skin with hot water (at least 130°F) and machine dry them on high heat.
  • Do not share dishes, cups, or eating utensils. Germs are often spread when a person touches something contaminated with germs and then shares it with someone else without washing their hands in between.
  • Do not enter the house if you are sick (coughing or fever) until at least 24 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

If you are sick, limit your visits to a minimum, and always remember to wash your hands with soap and water before leaving the facility or touching any infected residents.

The effectiveness of these prevention recommendations is unsure as it has not been widely implemented in long-term care facilities.

Nursing Home Infectious Disease Outbreak: A Deadly Hazard for the Frail and Elderly Nursing Home Residents

A recent nursing home infection outbreak in Pennsylvania has been linked to the death of a 67-year-old man. The victim was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia and later died from sepsis, often caused by bacteria or fungi resistant to antibiotics.

This case highlights the seriousness of infections and dangers for vulnerable patients, especially nursing home residents. Infections can be contracted through contact with other people or animals and exposure to contaminated surfaces.

These outbreaks are not uncommon among older adults because they have weaker immune systems than younger adults do. Still, this particular incident was unusual because only one person succumbed to an infectious disease while others were infected but survived.

The federal government has been trying to implement rule changes requiring long-term care facilities to abide by stricter policies and procedures to prevent the spread of infection, but this has been met with resistance from several facilities. I

n addition, many nursing homes have argued that these changes are too costly, time-consuming, and challenging to enforce.

Preventing Nosocomial Infections in Nursing Homes

Injuries sustained in a nursing home are often severe and can lead to nosocomial infections. These infections, also known as hospital-acquired infections, are much more common than people think, making it imperative for nursing homes to work against these types of diseases actively.

Nosocomial Infections occur when bacteria or other microorganisms already present in the patient's body get into the bloodstream through an open wound or natural membrane like the skin lining of an incision site.

Nosocomial infections are often caused by inadequate care from medical staff who fail to clean their hands after coming into contact with another person's blood or bodily fluids such as stool or urine during an examination, surgery, delivery of babies, etc.

Many infections can be prevented with the right protective equipment for staff, like gloves, gowns, and masks. These precautions are more important than ever to follow because nosocomial infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Nursing homes should implement airborne infection control protocols because breathing in particles or droplets of bacteria, fungi, and viruses from the air can cause them to infect the lungs.

In nursing homes, respiratory tract infections can be especially dangerous because they spread quickly from person to person and are often resistant to antibiotics.

The Most Common Infections Causing Outbreaks In Residential Aged Care

The most common types of infections include Clostridium difficile infections, influenza, urinary tract infection, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), norovirus, and rotavirus.

Skin and Soft Tissue Infection

Skin and soft tissue infections are common among nursing home residents and can range from mild to life-threatening. Any break in the skin, such as a cut or abrasion, can increase a patient's risk of these types of infections because they provide entry points for viruses and bacteria.

Skin and soft tissue infections often start as rashes that develop into blisters, eventually oozing fluid and crusty. These symptoms are usually accompanied by fever and body aches.

Common skin infections in nursing homes include:

  • Impetigo, an infection caused by bacteria
  • Cellulitis resulting from a bacterial or viral infection

These are both contagious and may require antibiotic treatments like penicillin or amoxicillin to clear up the infection.

Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness at the site of injury, fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius), pus at the site of injury, or drainage from the wound that is not healing as it should be.

To prevent these types of infections from happening in your loved one's nursing home facility, make sure that staff members follow proper handwashing procedures and monitor wounds for signs of infection.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are an unpleasant side effect of living in a nursing home. In addition, for nursing home residents who have had surgery, urinary tract infections may be the first sign that their catheter needs to be changed or replaced.

The discomfort of urinary tract infections can also cause bedsores and other complications for skilled nursing facility residents with dementia.

So, it's important to take care of yourself and others in your facility by installing urinals around the building, ensuring they're clean, and providing personal wipes for anyone who has difficulty using them.

What should you do if you experience symptoms of urinary tract infections? Seek medical help immediately!

Urinate often, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid alcohol consumption before bedtime. If these tips do not work after a couple of days, talk to your nurse about changing your medication schedule or exploring other treatment options.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a painful condition caused by many factors, including nursing home neglect, especially among residents with urinary catheters. In addition, UTIs are often mistaken for other conditions and not given proper treatment; this leaves victims in pain and suffering.

Bedsores

A life-threatening bedsore is a serious and painful skin ulcer due to prolonged pressure or lack of movement. The National Institutes of Health estimates that one in four nursing home residents will develop these sores, leading to sepsis (a potentially fatal infection from infected pressure ulcers), organ failure, and death if left untreated.

The elderly are at high risk of life-threatening bedsores. One in three hospitalized patients with bedsores will die within 30 days. In addition, up to one-third of all hospital-related deaths are from complications related to bedsores (pressure sores, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) and other chronic wound infections.

Nursing homes have a higher mortality rate due to pressure ulcers and other skin infections than hospitals do. It is estimated that more than 10% of nursing home residents develop these painful wounds each year through the negligence of health care workers.

In extreme cases, the staff must transfer elderly patients with a skin infection from their nursing home setting to an acute care hospital for immediate treatment and avoid infectious disease outbreaks affecting other residents in nursing homes.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a common infection that can be spread through close contact. In nursing homes, where there are many people in close quarters, MRSA infections are high.

While the risk is high, long-term care facilities should ensure that staff follow proper procedures when caring for patients to minimize the spread of infection.

For example, it is important for staff members who provide wound care or change bandages on sites where a doctor has made an incision to wear gloves because contact with those areas could lead to infection.

The best way to prevent MRSA from spreading is by washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. In addition, it would be best to stay away from others when you have any open wounds on your skin.

If you think you might have been exposed to MRSA, it's important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible about how best to treat it.

Clostridium Difficile Infection in Nursing Homes

Clostridium difficile (C-Diff) is a bacteria that thrives when the digestive tract has already been compromised. Nursing homes are especially susceptible to outbreaks of C. difficile because they're full of people who often have weakened immune systems and digestive tracts that are less able to fight against harmful bacteria and fungi.

Nursing home residents who take antibiotics experience more stress on their digestive systems than other adults, making them more likely to get sick from C. difficile and other types of Clostridium infection.

These infections can cause severe diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, and fever; it's not uncommon for this type of infection to be fatal among nursing home residents who have weakened immune systems.

C. Difficile infection is particularly dangerous because it can spread through soiled clothing, bedding, or medical equipment such as bariatric beds used to move patients who cannot do so on their own. It can also get into the air when those items are being laundered and infect people who breathe it in.

Use special disinfectants to thoroughly clean the nursing home and hire professional infection control staff to prevent C. difficile outbreaks effectively.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall mortality rate for people who contract this type of disease is about 30 percent. Still, it can be reduced with prompt medical treatment and good hygiene practices that keep residents healthy until they recover.

Lower Respiratory Tract Infections

Infections of the lower respiratory tract are a severe complication for older adults who reside in nursing homes. They are associated with increased mortality, hospitalization, and functional decline.

The respiratory tract is a system in your body that carries air into and out of your lungs. There are three parts to it: the nose, throat, and windpipe (trachea). When infected with bacteria or viruses, you get a lower respiratory tract infection known as bronchitis or pneumonia.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever, cough, chest congestion/pain when breathing deeply (especially at night)
  • Shortness of breath/rapid breathing (due to difficulty breathing out)
  • Sputum production (phlegm) that is clear or yellowish-green in color

These infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and are typically treated with antibiotics. In rare cases, they require hospitalization to treat fluid build-up in the lungs—a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Respiratory infections may be preventable through proper hygiene practices that reduce exposure to respiratory viruses and bacteria. Pneumococcal vaccination can reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia but is not always recommended because it may not provide a high level of protection for all older adults.

Streptococcus Pneumonia

Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is the most common infectious pathogen, especially among nursing home residents with feeding tubes. Many symptoms associated with pneumococcus are masked among elderly patients who might not experience the common fever associated with the condition or inform their caregiver in a nursing home setting of any discomfort or pain.

The nursing staff must follow infection control practices, including infection management, to minimize the potential of pneumococcus or other infectious disease outbreaks.

Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract Infections

GI tract infections in nursing homes are a serious issue that has been underestimated. One study found that over 50% of residents have had a GI tract infection, and most gastroenteritis outbreaks were not reported or treated by staff members.

Many GI tract infections in nursing homes are caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff). Also, viral gastroenteritis is a type of bacteria that thrives when the digestive tract has already been compromised. Nursing home facilities are especially susceptible to outbreaks of C. difficile because they're full of people who often have weakened immune systems and digestive tracts.

The main symptoms of developing infectious gastroenteritis include:

  • Watery diarrhea several times a day
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Fever
  • A rash that looks like small, red bumps (hives) or flat red spots on the stomach and back (abdominal skin), as well as in the mouth

These common infections can be caused by many different risk factors, including poor oral hygiene, contaminated food, water, or bedding materials, and the use of antibiotics which destroy the natural gut flora.

Data shows that approximately 35% of all outbreaks reported to state health departments involved GI infection outbreaks in nursing facilities. This number represents a higher incident rate and influenza outbreaks reported to the state health departments.

Do you have an elderly loved one living in a nursing home? If so, they must take extra precautions to prevent infection and debilitating illness by following proper handwashing and other sanitary practices.

Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria Infectious Outbreaks

Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are becoming more and more of a threat in the United States among common infections, mainly due to antibiotic overuse and misuse in healthcare, agriculture, and animal production systems.

Antimicrobial resistance can be transferred from animals to humans who eat or handle meat or other products from these animals and through contact with people who work with them. The CDC estimates that drug-resistant infections could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 if nothing stops it.

The most common antibiotic-resistant organisms are E Coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococci, and Streptococci species. In 2016, an antibiotic resistance outbreak caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae killed seven people in Wisconsin.

Prevention of these outbreaks includes improving infection prevention practices, using antimicrobial drugs as little as possible and only when needed, and not over-prescribing these medicines. Many problems arise from over-diagnose, secondary, infectious diarrhea, poor oral health, or aspiration pneumonia.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Was your loved one killed or permanently disabled due to a deadly infection contracted in a nursing home? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent staff and administrators.

In addition, the family members of nursing home residents who die from these infections are also likely eligible for compensation.

It is best to hire a nursing home negligence lawyer who has won other similar cases and has experience with these types of infections to resolve your case successfully.

Families who file the case quickly should be able to receive compensation for medical expenses, loss of companionship/loss of parental guidance, and any pain and suffering endured by the family member before their death.

Hiring a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer to Resolve a Deadly Infection Compensation Case

At the Nursing Home Law Center, our personal injury attorneys represent injured victims who were severely harmed by the negligence of others while residing in a nursing facility. Our legal team can offer immediate legal representation and stop the abuse now.

Call our law office at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation. Let us review your case to ensure that you can receive maximum compensation for your damages.

Our personal injury lawyers accept all injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with your lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

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