Infections in Nursing Homes
Accepting that our parents and grandparents need additional help outside of what we can provide is an incredibly difficult process which requires a lot of trust. If that trust is taken for granted by a Massachusetts nursing home or assisted living facility, the expert elder abuse attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP can help get you started on a claim or a suit today.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide's online site, nursing homes provide some services to more than 3 million elderly Americans every year. They also state that the most common danger for elderly staying at nursing homes is the risk of infection, since they are in constant close proximity with other individuals who may be ill, and the caretakers who interact with them.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from one to three million infections in nursing homes seen each year and close to 400,000 elderly residents will perish each year as the result of an infection. These infections are much more likely to cause death in an elderly person since they have naturally weakened immune systems and are less able to fight off infections. According the American Academy of Family Physicians, a staggering one third of all senior deaths occur due to infectious diseases.
According to A Place For Mom, the five most common infections found in the elderly population are:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
UTIs are the most common bacterial infection in older individuals. This is partially due to the higher use of catheters in the elderly and the higher presence of diabetes. However UTIs are trickier with the elderly because they may not exhibit the same symptoms as younger people suffering from UTIs. Rather than discomfort and pain, dementia and urinary incontinence may be more likely.
- Skin infections
Skin becomes less able to heal and regenerate itself as we age, and it also become less able to fight off infections as well. As a result, viral infections such as shingles and pressure ulcers; bacterial infections; cellulitis; and more potentially serious infections like staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) become more common as well.
- Bacterial pneumonia
Pneumonia is a common infection for the elderly as they experience changes in their lung capacity and respiration ability, as well as being around more sick people while in a nursing home facility. Although most common types of pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, other infections may not be treatable in such a way, making them more serious and potentially life threatening.
- Influenza (the flu)
Between the flu and the aforementioned pneumonia, these two infections are responsible for being the sixth leading cause of fatalities in Americans - and 90 percent of those deaths occur in the elderly. Symptoms of the flu resemble the common cold, but it can have a much more life threatening affect on the elderly, as their immune systems may not have the strength to fight off the influenza virus.
- Gastrointestinal infections
Changes in the ability to digest food and the actual physical bacteria within the intestine can result in more gastrointestinal infections, such as Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile. These can both have debilitating symptoms and lead to long-term illnesses.
As stated in the intro paragraph, you place trust in a nursing home facility that they will take good care of your elderly loved one when you leave them in their care. This means they have a responsibility to ensure that your elderly loved one does not contract a serious infection while in their care.
Preventing infections can be as simple as implementing simple, proper hygiene procedures such as washing hands and keeping sick individuals from infecting others through direct contact. At the first sign of illnesses, nursing home medical staff should be ready to diagnose and treat the illness so it does not progress.
If you or a loved one has seen an elderly relative become ill or even pass away due to an infection they caught while in the care of a nursing home facility, contact an experienced attorney at Altman & Altman LLP today to get started on a claim or suit right away. Losing an elderly loved one is hard enough without knowing it could have been prevented. If such a situation occurred, we will hold the responsible parties accountable.
Call us for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199. We are available 24/7.