When people are elderly or ill, infections may occur. However, infections do not always need to happen. Many times they go to advanced stages due to damp, unsanitary conditions and a failure to properly attend to the wound or infection early. An infection may be a sign of negligent care.
At Rosenbaum and Associates our nursing home lawyers often investigate cases involving repeat urinary tract infections (UTIs), sepsis and pneumonia. These infectious diseases occur more frequently in nursing home due to immunity and other issues that the elderly experience. Because the elder persons body is not as strong, they require extra attention and care to prevent and control infections. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority studied the impact of infection prevention practices on healthcare-associated infection. The study showed that implantation of “best practice” could greatly reduce the infection rates in Pennsylvania nursing homes.
A resident who is not receiving proper care is more prone to skin break down and suppressed immunity, which does not allow their body to fight infections. Dehydration and malnutrition are key factors contributing to infections in nursing homes. If your loved one is having ongoing infections you should also look for signs of dehydration or significant weight loss.
If infections are not treated promptly they can cause an elderly person to become septic. When this happens their organs begin to shut down and this can lead to death.
Infections also occur many times in nursing homes as a result of failure to reposition the resident, which leads to pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. The most significant risk factor for bedsores is immobility and therefore elderly individuals are particularly prone to bed sores without proper care. A resident who enters the facility without bedsores, should not develop them unless the facility can show that it was clearly unavoidable. Bedsores can become infected very easily. Skin assessments should occur regularly to ensure that any wounds are attended to by a wound care nurse before the wound becomes infected. Treatment should promote healing, prevent infection and make sure that no other sores develop. Because most bedsores are preventable, the existence of sores may in and of itself indicate negligence.
Courts in Pennsylvania look to testimony from employers of the facility, experts and review of the resident’s chart to determine whether the facility is properly staffed and ensuring that the resident is properly repositioned, wounds are treated, and preventative practices are in place. It is important that the nursing home keeps a complete chart and follows a care plan.
Urinary tract infections can also occur as a result of dehydration and hygiene issues with catheters. A resident who is incontinent should receive appropriate treatment and services to prevent urinary tract infections and to restore as much normal bladder function as possible. The development of repeat infection for those with catheters may be a sign of negligence.
When visiting a nursing home make that the facility is clean as well as the resident. This is often the first sign of understaffing or a poor infection care plan. If an infection occurs make sure that the resident is properly treated to promote healing. It is important that all necessary housekeeping and maintenance be performed to ensure that the environment is comfortable and that the risk of infection development and transmission is reduced.
If you are concerned about an infection involving a loved one at a nursing home call us to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer at 1-800-7-legal-7 or contact us on line for a Free Evaluation.