Food safety was once the primary concern in nursing homes. However, since 2010, infection rates have soared, and serious infections are now a major issue.
If your loved one is about to transition to a nursing home or is already a resident, here are several infections to which he or she might be exposed.
The most common infection
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection in nursing homes. Some patients have catheters, which increases their risk of UTI. Limited mobility and age-related changes in organ function are also to blame.
The fastest-growing infection
The pathogen known as Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has become the number one cause of diarrhea in nursing homes. Use of antibiotics to treat other conditions kills bacteria in the intestinal tract, leaving room for CDI to thrive, causing serious complications for weakened patients.
The deadliest infection
Pneumonia can result in death for elderly patients. Records show that 33 out of every 1,000 residents become infected. Symptoms are not always recognizable, although residents with feeding tubes are most at risk in nursing homes.
The most preventable infection
Ironically, influenza is among the most preventable infections in nursing homes but is also a leading cause of death. Proximity to other patients and to staff and visitors makes influenza easy to spread. The best protection, however, is simply an annual flu shot.
Managing the problem
Nursing homes are now required to report infection information to the National Health Safety Network. Dedicated surveillance is key to solving the infection problem, but nursing homes have limited resources. If your loved one develops an infection and you believe the nursing home staff has been negligent in the level of care provided, you may wish to seek legal guidance in order to determine the appropriate next steps.