Study Demonstrates Correlation Between Under-Staffing & Incidence Of Infections In Nursing Homes

Amongst the first of its kind, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh set forth to determine what factors make nursing home patients susceptible to infections.  The team of researchers evaluated Medicare and Medicaid data from 16,000 from 2000 through 2007 and determined that the biggest predictor of infection was the staffing levels at the facility.

While analyzing the data supplied pursuant to medicare regulations, the researchers looked for violations related to F-Tag 441.  F-Tag 441 is the citation given to nursing homes when nursing home surveyors find violations for infection control protocol.  According to Medicare data, 15% of nursing home across the United States received a citation pertaining to this f-tag.

Correlation Between Under-Staffing & Incidence Of Infections In Nursing HomesThe study will be officially published in the May issue of the Journal of Infection Control made the assumption that when caregivers such as CNA’s, RN’s and LPN’s are pressured to serve more patients, basic sanitation measures are likely to be compromised such as regularly washing hands and cleaning high-traffic areas.

I certainly hope more nursing homes and assisted living facilities recognize the dangers patients face when they fail to employ well-know sanitation practices in addition to hand washing such as: tracking and isolating patients with contagious conditions, using sterilized medical equipment, use of antibacterial cleaning agents and hot water for laundry.

Unfortunately, given the nature of the living arrangements compounded by the patient demographics, infections must be acknowledged as a real danger facing this vulnerable group.  According to some estimates, more than 400,000 people die due to infections contracted in long-term care facilities every year.  

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