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UTI in Nursing Home
Nursing homes are the perfect breeding ground for developing a severe urinary tract infection. The elderly 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 long-term care facilities.
Was your loved one living in a nursing home the victim of a urinary tract infection (UTI) that led to severe complications or wrongful death? At the Nursing Home Law Center, our nursing home abuse attorneys can provide legal advocacy to stop nursing home 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. Let us begin working on your family's behalf to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve for the nursing home's negligence.
National Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Studies
A study 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 annually.
Half of 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 indicated that older adults' urinary tract infections (UTIs) should be treated as a significant health risk, especially for men with urinary catheters and condom catheters. A UTI could lead to antibiotic resistance, increased healthcare costs, and more extended hospital stays in some cases.
Following Nursing Home Infection Prevention 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 nursing homes pay to infection protocol, the better off they will be. Infection control efforts should start with leadership at the nursing home facility and work their way down.
In the end, it's a team effort. Everyone from physicians and nurses to housekeepers and other staff members has a role in ensuring their vulnerable and elderly patients don’t get severe infections.
What Causes Urinary Tract Infections in Nursing Home Residents?
Nursing home residents developing a UTI are often victims of improper care when the nursing home fails to follow infection prevention protocol or staff does not change catheters or diapers regularly, leading to an increased risk that bacteria will grow and cause an infection in the urinary system.
Other causes of urinary tract infections may include:
- The nursing home fails to monitor specific antibiotics given to the resident
- 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 nursing home residents unable to use the bathroom when necessary.
- Nursing home residents might not urinate often enough
What are the Symptoms of a UTI?
Urinary tract infections are common among women but can happen to anyone. Symptoms of a UTI include burning during urination, pain in the lower abdomen or groin area, and a frequent urge to pee. You must see your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms for more than two days.
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
- Suprapubic pain
- New or increased incontinence
- Positive urine culture
- Urinary retention in patients with indwelling urinary catheters
Urine cultures diagnose a urinary tract infection in nursing home residents. It is crucial 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. For example, a bladder infection is typically caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli).
If left untreated, a UTI can lead to life-threatening sepsis.
Doctors should avoid prescribing antibiotics to treat asymptomatic bacteria. The medication can increase the potential risk of antimicrobial resistance without improving the patient's survival or changing chronic genitourinary symptoms.
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 essential to see a doctor as soon as possible for treatment of suspected urinary tract infections (UTIs) if you experience:
- Pain while urinating
- A constant need to urinate 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 such as 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 sleeping well each night. In addition, the staff in nursing homes must follow established UTI prevention protocols to avoid recurrent infections in the urinary system.
Changing Care for Nursing Home Residents with a Urinary Tract Infection
If the doctor determines that the 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 urinary tract infection
- 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 essential 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, not other health issues.
Keep track of these changes in your loved one's health by reviewing their care with the healthcare staff detailing any changes during their stay at the nursing home.
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.
Your doctor may also prescribe prophylactic agents, medications taken regularly to prevent urinary tract infections. Depending on the specified type, these are usually given in pill form and are taken over several weeks or months.
Preventing Urinary Tract Infections by Staying Hydrated
Your doctor may suggest you keep 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.
UTI Prevention Steps
Do you suspect your loved one suffered a UTI in a nursing home? If so, call their doctor immediately to receive supportive therapy and antimicrobial prescriptions to treat the disease and avoid septic shock.
And finally, know the signs of a suspected UTI to 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.
The most common symptoms include fever, urinating pain, 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 immediately!
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.
Additionally, older women experience estrogen deficiency, which impacts the vagina's protective bacterial colonization. At the same time, aging men have difficulty with their prostate, leading to urine retention, bacteria entrapment, and recurrent urinary tract infections.
According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), having an indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) is another risk factor for a UTI.
Urinary tract infections in nursing homes are not usually due to a bladder problem like an overactive bladder or urinary incontinence. Urinary tract infections may develop from the following factors:
- Chronic lack of physical activity and exercise in nursing homes
- 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 can lead to a blockage in the urinary tract
- Urinary catheters, and indwelling catheters (IUCs) are also risk factors for developing a UTI
It is essential to ensure your loved one is receiving adequate care. It might be nursing home abuse if they are developing UTIs with an alarming frequency.
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 of an infection.
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 in this culture, it indicates a UTI.
Next, imaging studies are performed to see if anything prevents 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 nursing homes.
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 nursing home? 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 one 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 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.
If your loved one does not get better, or you suspect the nursing home staff is not adequately administering their medications, it might be a sign of nursing home abuse. Keep a close eye on the facility your loved one has been staying and their possible UTI symptoms.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve a Urinary Tract Infection Compensation Case
Did your loved one develop a severe urinary tract infection caused by the nursing staff's negligence? 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 for caregiver patients who have suffered nursing home abuse from 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.