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Study Finds Nursing Home Infection Rates Rising

When your loved one enters a nursing home to be cared for, that’s exactly what you expect – good care. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are neglected and not cared for how they should be. As a result, the infection rates have risen in nursing homes in this nation, according to a study reported by HealthDay News.

The study on nursing home infection rates was conducted by a team at the Columbia University School of Nursing, and led by author Carolyn Herzig. They analyzed data between 2006 and 2010 that was submitted by nursing homes to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They found infections rates have risen over the years in nursing homes across the nation.

Types of Infections on the Rise in Nursing Homes

“Infections are a leading cause of deaths and complications for nursing home residents and, with the exception of tuberculosis, we found a significant increase in infection rates across the board,” said Herzig. The data indicated that the following infection rates have risen in nursing homes:

  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Septicemia (blood infection)
  • Wound infections
  • Drug-resistant bacterial infections such as MRSA

According to the study, there was a 48 percent increase in viral hepatitis. Multiple drug-resistant bacterial infections rose by 18 percent, and pneumonia increased by 11 percent. There was a one percent increase in urinary tract infections. While viral hepatitis saw the biggest increase over the five-year period, pneumonia and urinary tract infections were the most common infections seen in nursing home residents.

The Seriousness of Nursing Home Infections

Unfortunately, the trend in the rise in nursing home infections will continue to get worse as baby boomers age and until there are better hygiene practices required at nursing homes. Because this information and these statistics are alarming, families with aging relatives need to be aware of these concerns when looking for a nursing home for their loved one.

Some things to look for when assessing a nursing home for your elderly family member include:

  • Enough hand sanitizer dispensers and hand-washing stations to ensure proper hand hygiene
  • Adequate staff ratio to assist nursing home residents to the bathroom
  • Less use of urinary catheters

While some of these things are difficult to assess when checking out nursing homes, it is important to ask questions when you are comparing nursing homes. Also, “When you walk into a nursing home for the first time, you should easily spot hand sanitizer dispensers or hand-washing stations,” Herzig said. “If you don’t see this, it’s an indication that infection control and prevention may be lacking at the facility.”

The study’s author believes further research is needed to determine why the infection rate across nursing homes is rising. In the meantime, nursing homes should do everything they can to reduce residents’ risk of infection by increasing residents’ trips to the bathroom, providing more frequent diaper changes, reducing the use of catheters, and requiring the proper hand hygiene from all nursing home workers.

If you or a loved one suffered an infection that led to complications, you may have a nursing home neglect claim. Find out more about your rights from a nursing home neglect lawyer by calling the Law Offices of David Benenfeld at 866-9 HELP NOW or 866-943-5766 for a free consultation today.

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