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Neglect in nursing homes is a serious problem that affects many elderly individuals in the United States. Individuals who are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves can suffer physical, emotional, and psychological harm. Being aware of the underlying causes of such mistreatment can help you prevent it and ensure the safety of your loved ones while they are under nursing home care.
Sepsis in nursing homes is a serious concern. The elderly and disabled individuals in these homes need constant care and medical attention. Although nursing homes provide a crucial service by caring for vulnerable members of society, they can also be breeding grounds for infectious diseases and medical errors. These issues can result in severe health complications and even fatalities.
Warning signs of elder abuse include sudden changes in behavior or mood, unexplainable financial hardship, malnourishment or poor hygiene, social isolation or restricted communication, and damaged personal belongings.
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The Dirty Little Nursing Home Secret

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Keeping a secret

Grazian and Volpe has written multiple articles on this website regarding the dangers of nursing home neglect and abuse. We have repeatedly stressed the need for the family and friends of the nursing home patient to be vigilant for the signs of neglect and abuse and to familiarize themselves with the patient’s care plan to help assure compliance.

Keeping a secret

However, a recent article in the New York Times raises a new nursing home danger, one which would seem common sense in a healthcare environment. It should be a given that persons in any area of the healthcare field would practice the simple act of handwashing or using an alcohol-based anti-microbial before and after any direct contact with a resident. Before helping someone with tooth-brushing, bathing, eating or using the toilet. Before and after handling a catheter or taking a blood sample or changing a dressing. Not only are these common sense habits; they’re prescribed by guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, part of the process by which the nation’s nursing homes are inspected.

In an era when fierce infections like MRSA and Clostridium difficile are endemic in nursing homes and hospitals, handwashing should be a well-followed compulsory habit. The elderly in nursing homes are frail and particularly vulnerable to infection and infections picked up in a health care setting represent their single greatest cause of sickness and death, and the reason underlying a quarter of all hospitalizations from long-term care facilities.

Given those statistics, it is shocking that the number of nursing homes cited for deficiencies in “hand hygiene” has been rising at a dramatic rate in the last few years. One reason cited by the University of Pittsburgh gerontologist Nicholas Castle, a veteran nursing home researcher, was the growing emphasis on infection control, meaning that inspectors are paying more attention to this trend and enforcement of hand-hygiene guidelines.

Unfortunately, the real rate of unwashed hands may actually be higher than data shows, as it can be assumed nursing home staffers are careful to comply with Medicare guidelines in the presence of inspectors.

Another instance of the need for family and friends to monitor the care and habits of the nursing home staff and to be ever vigilant for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. We have written a good deal on this website regarding these signs-please do refer to these articles when you suspect abuse or neglect, and remember any consultation call is free. Friends and family should be sure to wash their hands when entering and exiting any nursing home facilities, and before and after helping a resident in any capacity.

About the Author

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Miller Law, Ltd.

Chicago accident lawyer Kurt D. Lloyd