Overview of Nursing Home Negligence
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every ten seniors who are over the age of 60 experience elder abuse. Abuse of elders can happen in many forms including emotional, physical, financial and sexual. The abuse is not always obvious. The National Center for Victims of Crime estimates that up to 10% of self-reported incidents of abuse were physical. Residents are often emotionally abused with intimidation, threats and social isolation.
The CDC also estimates that as many as 380,000 people die each year from infections in unsanitary nursing homes. This is often due to staff members neglecting to keep up with hygiene standards in the facilities. Due to understaffing at more than 90% of the nation’s long-term care facilities, basic hygiene has started to take a backseat to facilities’ profits.
Infections and Poor Hygiene In Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities
In nursing facilities across the nation, poor hygiene is often the leading cause of elder neglect. Most facilities do not have enough staff members to take care of all of the residents. The turnover rate for nursing home employees is very high. A single nursing home facility may see a new staff member each year.
Most nursing assistants are overworked and end up leaving their residents in unsafe environments for long periods of time. Unfortunately, when the levels of negligence reach a certain state, it becomes an immoral lack of attention and makes the situation viable for a nursing home lawsuit.
Nursing Home Residents Put at Risk of Deadly Infections
According to a study by Aging Health, nursing homes are expected to develop an average of 2 million infections each year. One contributing factor is the fact that senior residents have weakened immune systems and are unable to keep up with their own hygiene. This means that doctors, nurses and other staff workers are in charge of paying close attention to their residents’ hygiene and making sure they stay clean and sanitary. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and residents end up being neglected.
Poor Hygiene of Nursing Home Staff
Keeping residents clean is only one of the critical ways to keep them safe from deadly, infectious diseases. It is also important that nursing assistants, nurses, doctors and other staff members keep themselves clean and sanitary. Unfortunately, this responsibility is not always taken seriously. Often times, even the most basic hygiene practices are neglected.
Something as simple as washing your hands on a regular basis may not be done, which leads to an increased risk of spreading deadly illnesses and infections. A nursing home staff member may take care of one resident who has a contagious illness and then go take care of another resident right after without washing their hands or using new gloves. Staff members may also come into work with an illness but continue to provide care for residents when they should not be making contact with anyone, especially the residents who have a weak immune system. The need for stronger hygiene rules in all nursing home facilities is obvious, but many of them are not willing to take initiative to fix the problems.
Common Types of Infections Found in Unsanitary Nursing Homes
Unsanitary nursing homes and staff with poor hygiene can easily lead to different types of infections. When the residents of nursing homes are left in unsanitary conditions for long periods of time, they are at an increased risk of contracting preventable infections such as:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Herpes zoster
- Urinary tract infection
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Unfortunately, nursing home residents are not just finding themselves at risk of contracting simple, minor infections due to uncleanliness and poor hygiene. In some cases, residents find themselves being threatened by very dangerous infections and illnesses, including some bacteria that are very resistant to antibiotics. Almost one-third of residents living in unsanitary nursing homes are currently infected with these types of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This can lead to breeding grounds for deadly superbugs such as MRSA.
To make problems worse, infections can be more difficult to diagnose in elderly residents because the most common symptoms of infection are often nonexistent. This leads to many treatable infections being left without proper medical attention and increases the level of discomfort patients have. It will also lead to higher rates of hospitalization, chronic illness and death.
Signs of Infections in Nursing Homes
Many of the common symptoms and signs of infection in people are the response from the immune system trying to fight off the infection. For young and healthy people, the signs can include pain, fever, and headaches. Most elderly nursing home residents have immune systems that are weaker. This means they will not have the same signs and symptoms of infection as younger individuals. Some non-specific signs nursing home staff should be keeping a lookout for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in mental state
- Increase in falls and slips
Physicians of nursing home residents often do not offer specific warnings to look out for beyond overall functional decline in elderly patients. This could mean a gradual impairment in their ability to perform normal tasks such as going to the bathroom, getting dressed and bathing. If your loved one uses a catheter, it is especially important they get the necessary care to keep the risk of developing an infection as low as possible.
Dangers That Arise from Poor Hygiene in Nursing Homes
Beyond infections, elderly residents living in unsanitary nursing homes are also susceptible to suffering from other health issues such as:
- Cold and flu viruses
- Chronic diarrhea
- Athlete’s foot
These particular health conditions can put both the residents and their visitors at risk of contracting more complicated infections. In some cases, these issues can be picked up at the nursing home and taken home to other loved ones. Psychological trauma can also be brought on by living in unclean conditions for long periods of time. Many of the same nursing home residents are already dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Unsanitary nursing home facilities are demeaning to our elders. Neglect can result in psychological consequences including increased anxiety, depression, and less enjoyment in life.
What Causes Poor Hygiene in Nursing Homes?
There are many reasons poor hygiene develops in nursing home facilities. Some of the reasons may include:
- Untrained employees who lack basic education in medical care.
- Understaffing and too few medical professionals to meet the needs of residents.
- Sanitary procedures not being followed adequately including failure to follow the standard set for disposing of biological and medical wastes.
Nursing home facilities are often understaffed and not kept clean in an attempt to help lower the costs of running the facility. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, you expect to be paying for a standard level of care to keep them healthy so they may enjoy their final years. Poor hygiene in nursing homes is not just economically unfair for the residents, it is in violation of state and federal regulations.
Legal Duties of Nursing Homes
When people put their elderly loved ones in nursing home facilities, it comes with the expectation that the facility will remain clean and that their loved ones will be properly taken care of. It is the legal duty of the nursing home staff to treat your loved one well and ensure that proper hygiene is maintained. Nursing home residents are typically powerless in the nursing home facility environment and so their families must be on the lookout for any sign of nursing home negligence.
Any violation of a nursing home’s legal duties constitutes a nursing home negligence lawsuit. If you have a loved one who has suffered due to poor hygiene in a nursing home, the lawyers of KBA Attorneys are here to help.
Fighting Against Nursing Home Neglect
When it comes to chronic poor hygiene in nursing homes, it is important not to waste any time taking action. The facilities that fail to keep up basic hygiene standards for their residents should be held responsible in courts of law. Your family needs professional attorneys by their side to find the truth in these situations. Let KBA Attorneys help you get justice for your loved one who has suffered nursing home neglect as a result of poor hygiene practices. We will work with you to protect the dignity and rights of your loved one and work toward stopping the abuse.
Call 855-281-2571 or fill out an online form for a free case evaluation.
- CDC. “Elder Abuse Prevention”, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/features/elderabuse/index.html. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- CDC. “Nursing Homes and Assisted Living (Long-term Care Facilities [LTCFs])”, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/index.html. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- NCOA. “Elder Abuse Facts”, National Council of Aging, https://www.ncoa.org/public-policy-action/elder-justice/elder-abuse-facts/. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- Ana Montoya and Lona Mody. “Common infections in nursing homes: a review of current issues and challenges”, Aging Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3526889/. Accessed July 29, 2019.
- Erica Mitchell. “Nursing Homes and Infection Control: The Most Common Infections”, EOS Surfaces, http://blog.eoscu.com/blog/nursing-homes-and-infection-control-the-most-common-infections. Accessed July 29, 2019