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Urinary Tract Infections in Nursing Homes

nursing-home-uti-attorneyWas your loved one living in a nursing facility the victim of a urinary tract infection that led to serious complications or wrongful death? At the Nursing Home Law Center, our nursing home abuse attorneys can provide legal advocacy to stop the abuse now.

Call our legal team at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation. Then, let us begin working on your family's behalf to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve for the nursing home's negligence.

Nursing homes are the perfect breeding ground for developing a severe UTI. The residents can't always get up to use the bathroom, and it's not uncommon for there to be a lack of attention paid to hygiene in these facilities.

Nursing home patients with UTI symptoms must see their doctor as soon as possible so they can start treatment before things get out of control. 

National UTI Studies

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on UTIs in nursing homes said that a quarter-million cases occur every year.

Half these cases are resistant to at least one antibiotic - and the more antibiotics the patient has been exposed to over their lifetime, the less likely it is that another antibiotic will work. Therefore, overuse of antibiotics must be avoided when treating pyuria or asymptomatic bacteriuria.

The study suggested that UTIs in older people should be treated as a major health risk, especially men with urinary catheters and condom catheters. A UTI could lead to antibiotic resistance, increased healthcare costs, and longer hospital stays in some cases.

Nursing homes could reduce the number of UTI cases that occur by improving infection protection protocols. Unfortunately, these protocols are nothing more than simple hygiene policies like handwashing, using gloves, and having staff change catheters as recommended.

The study also mentioned that nursing homes need to keep a better eye on their patients for UTI symptoms - especially people with dementia.

For example, nursing home residents who have cognitive issues or trouble walking may not even realize they are urinating in bed or could be unable to get help if they do need to use the bathroom.

Following Nursing Home Protocols

The study suggested that all nursing home patients have an indwelling catheter for no more than five days. Nursing homes should also have protocols for when it's time for a resident to be taken off their indwelling catheter, and they should stock single-use catheters as a backup.

The more attention that nursing homes pay to infection protocol, the better off they will be. Infection control efforts are something that should start with leadership at the facility and work their way down.

In the end, it's a team effort - everything from physicians and nurses to housekeepers and other staff members has a role in making sure nothing bad gets into or out of the facility.

Urinary Tract Infections in Nursing Home Centers

Developing a UTI in a nursing home is an unfortunate reality. As the population ages, senior home patients often suffer from chronic bladder infections that can be difficult or painful to manage without medical intervention.

Unfortunately, many of these victims don't receive treatment because they're not aware of their condition, and it's difficult for staff members to monitor every resident all the time. Read on for more information about this issue and what you can do if you suspect your loved one suffers from UTI symptoms. 

The Most Common Infection in Nursing Homes

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are the most common infection in nursing homes and an extremely uncomfortable condition. UTIs can be caused by sitting in their urine or having a catheter inserted for too long. Most people get their first UTI after the age of sixty, which is why this page post will focus on preventing them from happening so often.

The best way to prevent these infections is to drink plenty of fluids, urinate frequently, and eat high-fiber foods such as berries and whole grains that help promote healthy bacteria growth in your gut. If you do not have enough water, talk with one of your caregivers about getting a water pitcher delivered directly to your room! 

What Causes Urinary Tract Infections in Nursing Home Residents?

Nursing home residents developing a UTI are often victims of improper care when the nursing staff fails to change catheters or diapers regularly, leading to an increased risk that bacteria will grow and cause infection.

Other causes may include:

  • Specific antibiotics are given to the resident without proper monitoring
  • Ileostomy bags being left too long before emptying
  • Incontinence pads are not being changed often enough 
  • Residents are not drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated
  • Physical restraints have been used for too long, leaving residents unable to use the bathroom when necessary
  • Nursing home residents might be dehydrated from not urinating often enough

Nursing homes should have protocols to monitor these risks with their staff to prevent UTIs in residents. They also need to educate their staff on how important it is for them to change catheters and diapers regularly, so the chance of infection is reduced. 

What are the Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection in Nursing Home Residents?

Urinary tract infections are common among women, but they can happen to anyone. Symptoms include burning during urination, pain in the lower abdomen or groin area, and a frequent urge to pee. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two days, you must see your doctor right away.

Common symptoms of a UTI in a nursing home resident include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Urine that is darker and looks like coffee, tea, or cola
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Residual urine (possible lower UTI)
  • Lower back pain
  • Headache
  • Suprapubic pain
  • New or increased incontinence
  • Positive urine culture
  • Urinary retention in patients with indwelling urinary catheters

Urine cultures are used to diagnose a urinary tract infection in nursing home residents. It is important to determine which type of bacteria has caused the infection and what specific antibiotic will work best for killing the bacteria so the resident can start their treatment as soon as possible.

If left untreated, a UTI can lead to life-threatening sepsis

Doctors should avoid prescribing antibiotics to treat asymptomatic bacteriuria. The medication can increase the potential risk of antimicrobial resistance without improving the patient's survival chance or changing chronic genitourinary symptoms.

Urinary Tract Infections in Nursing Home Facilities: How You Can Help

Anyone who has been a victim of an injury knows that getting out of bed is not always easy. For the elderly, it can be even more difficult. Urinary tract infection symptoms are one example of how injuries can affect people's lives negatively in nursing homes. 

UTIs tend to be more common in people who live in long-term care facilities than those living outside these settings. Typically, older nursing home residents have a weaker immune system that might be challenged to fight off recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

But no matter what age you are, a UTI is an extremely uncomfortable experience. Even worse, the elderly may not communicate this effectively with their caregivers or families because they can't feel any pain due to decreased nerve activity. Therefore, nurses and family members must learn how to recognize the symptoms of UTIs in nursing home residents. 

If you live in a long-term care facility where you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of a UTI, speak up and tell your caregiver about it. Then, there is more time to act and treat the infection(s) by making an early diagnosis.

In some cases, taking antibiotics will clear up the infection. In other cases, a urinary catheter or indwelling catheter may be required to drain urine from the bladder, which helps prevent further infections from occurring and decreases pain.

In addition, don't be afraid to speak up with any questions you might have about your treatment plan or specific symptoms that are concerning you. Your health and the health of your loved ones are important to everyone!

If you have any questions about a urinary tract infection in a nursing home resident, contact the Nursing Home Law Center today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number). We can help you determine what care options are best for them.

How to Identify Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a common bacterial infection affecting the bladder and urethra. Did you experience any of these signs and symptoms listed below? If so, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections (UTIs) if you experience:

  • Pain while urinating
  • A strong need to go but being unable to do so
  • Cloudy urine with an unusual odor
  • Blood in your urine or difficulty passing urine

One way you can diagnose this condition at home is by self-administering health interventions like drinking plenty of fluids (even if they are fruit-based), taking cranberry supplements, or eating unsalted foods like cooked carrots.

Other helpful interventions include pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) and getting enough sleep each night. In addition, the staff in nursing homes must follow established UTI prevention protocols to avoid recurrent UTI symptoms.

Diagnosing a Urinary Tract Infection Using Health Interventions

The Nursing Home Medical Director or the nursing home residents' doctors often order laboratory tests and studies to diagnose a UTI accurately. These tests could include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Blood studies
  • Kidney function tests

If a UTI is not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, the infection could spread to the kidneys, which can cause serious medical issues. The most common cause of this condition in long-term care homes is a urinary catheter that compromises the bladder allowing bacteria to enter the body.

A UTI spreading to the kidneys is especially risky for nursing home residents living with dementia or Alzheimer's who may not communicate their discomfort, pain, and need for a change in care due to communication limitations, and this includes those residents who live with:

  • Behavioral symptoms
  • Verbal or non-verbal communication issues
  • Cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer's and other dementia-related issues
  • Physical limitations or mobility issues
  • Vision loss
  • Short-term memory loss could lead to a UTI being misdiagnosed because the resident may not be able to communicate symptoms that indicate health issues
  • Memory issues can also cause residents to forget their medications, leading them to take too little or too much medication, which could further complicate their health issues

The symptoms of a UTI in nursing home residents living with dementia and Alzheimer's may look like other illnesses or conditions, which is why it's so important for you to pay close attention to any signs that are out of the ordinary. Here are some examples:

  • Nursing home residents might experience changes in mental status like confusion, agitation, or delusions
  • Nursing home residents might have changes in vision like seeing halos around lights, blurred vision, or eye pain
  • Patients and long-term care facilities might also experience dizziness and headaches, leading them to fall. A fall increases the risk of serious injury, especially if they hit their head. Falls are one of the most common causes of injury in nursing homes
Changing Care for Residents with a Urinary Tract Infection

If the doctor determines that your symptomatic UTI is causing your loved one's health issues, you may notice an immediate change in their care plan, involving:

  • Urinalysis testing
  • A catheter or indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) change
  • Medication to treat the UTI
  • Changes in the resident's treatment plan focusing on resolving an infection

You can help ensure they receive the treatment they need by staying in tune with their daily activities and behaviors. It's also important to keep a close eye on any changes you notice, as it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when symptoms are caused by a UTI and not other health issues.

Keep track of these changes in your loved one's health by reviewing their medical records detailing any changes during their stay at the nursing facility.

Urinary Tract Infection Prevention in Long-Term Care Facilities

One of the best ways to prevent a UTI is by taking proactive steps, such as doing Kegel exercises regularly and practicing good hygiene. These include wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, urinating before and after sexual intercourse, and washing your genital area regularly.

The cause of UTIs is bacteria entering the urinary tract from the anus or vagina. When you practice good hygiene, you're reducing your risk for developing a UTI by decreasing bacteria levels in your body. You should also avoid wearing tight clothing like pantyhose as this can increase the risk of bacteria entering through skin-to-skin contact.

As with all UTIs, eliminating a urinary catheter, also known as an indwelling urinary catheter (IUC), is best to prevent a UTI. It may seem strange to have your loved one's removal of a medical device they need for day-to-day activities, but this is often necessary to reduce their risk of developing other health issues caused by catheter related UTIs.

A UTI doesn't have to have caused your loved one's symptoms but could be an additional health condition in patients with advanced dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the nursing staff must attend to all aging adults' physical and mental issues, including medication and treatments.

Managing Urinary Tract Infections | Prophylactic Agents for UTIs

If your loved one is diagnosed with a UTI and isn't experiencing any complications, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent future occurrences. This drug can kill the bacteria in the body, causing the infection and lessening their risk of infection.

Your doctor may also prescribe prophylactic agents, which are medications taken regularly to prevent infections from occurring. Depending on the prescribed type, these are usually given in pill form and are taken over several weeks or months.

Preventing UTIs by Staying Hydrated

Your doctor may suggest that you begin keeping track of your loved one's fluid intake to determine whether they're drinking enough water to avoid UTIs. As people age, it's common for their bladders to lose muscle tone (they don't hold as much urine), making them more likely to develop a UTI.

By monitoring how frequently your loved one urinates, you can determine if they're getting enough fluids. If they're urinating every two or three hours, it's too much urine for their bladder to handle. Too much urine in the bladder can prevent it from emptying fully and increase your loved one's risk of developing a UTI.

So, what is important to remember about UTIs? First, of course, it is crucial to know how to prevent urinary tract infections from occurring.

Do you suspect your loved one is suffering from a UTI in a nursing facility? If so, call their doctor immediately to receive supportive therapy and antimicrobial prescriptions to treat the condition and avoid septic shock.

And finally, know the signs of a suspected UTI so that you can identify whether or not your loved one is suffering from this health issue. Any inaction by the medical team to identify infectious diseases, take a urine sample, or notice antimicrobial resistance might be considered nursing home abuse.

Some of the most common symptoms include fever, pain when urinating, and cloudy or bloody urine. If you notice these symptoms in your loved one, be sure to tell their nurse so they can schedule an appointment with their doctor right away!

People at Greatest Risk of Developing a Urinary Tract Infection in a Nursing Home

People at high risk of developing a UTI include those with weak immune systems, such as people who have had chemotherapy or are suffering from AIDS; women who are pregnant, postpartum, or post-menopausal; and people taking long-term steroid medications.

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, having an indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) is another risk factor for developing a UTI.

Urinary tract infections in nursing centers will not usually be due to a bladder problem like an overactive bladder or overflow urinary incontinence. Urinary tract infections may develop from the following factors:

  • Chronic lack of physical activity and exercise
  • Being confined to bed for long periods, so that getting up frequently to move about or use the bathroom is not possible
  • Lack of mental stimulation (often found in people with severe dementia)
  • Nerve damage or paralysis, which can lead to a blockage in the urinary tract
  • Urinary catheters and indwelling catheters (IUCs) are also risk factors for developing a UTI

People who have the following conditions will often have an and indwelling catheter:

  • Chronic illness
  • Weak immune system (such as people who have had chemotherapy or are suffering from AIDS)
  • An enlarged prostate gland, which is common in older men
  • A blockage somewhere in the urinary tract
  • Those who have undergone surgery to remove the bladder or prostate gland, especially if it leaves them with a stoma for urinating
  • Those receiving cancer treatments (although this is rare)
Finding a Urinary Tract Infection through Laboratory Tests and Studies

A UTI can be found by various tests and studies, usually with a positive urine culture. The first is, of course, a urinalysis (UA). A urinalysis involves testing the urine specimen for white blood cells, nitrite bacteria, or red blood cells—all signs that an infection may be present.

The subsequent study to check for UTIs is a urine culture, in which a urine specimen is taken from the bladder and tested for bacteria. If bacteria grow on this culture, it's an indication of a UTI.

Next, imaging studies are performed to see if anything is preventing the person's bladder from emptying normally (this would prevent them from urinating as often as they would like or need to).

Lastly, a CT scan of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder (also called a KUB) is performed. This diagnostic test allows the doctor to look inside the person's urinary tract and check for abnormalities preventing normal urine flow. These abnormalities include kidney stones or other tumors. The KUB test also allows the doctor to check the bladder's size and shape.

Nursing Home Patient Urinary Tract Infection Complications and Risks

People hospitalized in a nursing home or other long-term care facility have a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections and associated problems than people who receive hospital care. Possible complications and risks related to a UTI in a nursing home include:

  • Kidney damage due to chronic infection (it can also lead to chronic kidney disease)
  • Kidney stone development or kidney failure (which is rare)
  • Death due to severe infection. For example, people with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk of sepsis if they develop a UTI while in a nursing home
When to Call Your Doctor about a UTI in the Nursing Home

Were you or a loved one recently diagnosed with a urinary tract infection while living in a long-term care facility? If so, contact your doctor immediately. The physician will probably want to treat your condition with antibiotics. Some nursing home employees may also be able to administer prophylactic antibiotics.

However, the doctor will want to ensure that some healthcare providers watch your loved ones and monitor their symptoms. The caregiving facility medical team and administrator need to know if:

  • The patient has any risk factors for a UTI
  • The patient is currently taking any medications that may lower their immunity and make them more susceptible to infection
  • The nursing home resident has medical conditions (such as diminished renal function, renal failure, or chronic illness) when older adults have been diagnosed with a UTI in the past
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve a Urinary Tract Infection Compensation Case

Did your loved one develop a serious urinary tract infection caused by the negligence of the nursing staff? Was their UTI the result of chlamydia, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or mycoplasma bacteria entering their urethra, leading to an infection of the kidneys, bladder, urethra, ureters, or another portion of the urinary system?

At the Nursing Home Law Center, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates to caregiver patients who have suffered at the hands of their medical staff or other elderly nursing home residents.

Call our legal team at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Our lawyers accept all personal 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.

Resources:

WebMD – Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

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