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Lack of infection control leads to nursing home abuse and neglect

People in Kentucky might assume that the nursing homes they choose for their loved ones will be sanitary. After all, just like hospitals and other health care facilities have infection control policies, so too should nursing homes, right? Actually, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis, nursing homes across the nation are failing to take the necessary precautions to prevent infections -- including washing their hands, keeping ill patients quarantined and having workers stay at home while they are sick. This, in turn, could potentially make nursing home residents severely ill.

According to the analysis, 74 percent of nursing homes studied received citations for lack of infection control. Some facilities have been cited multiple times for this issue. However, it is rare for a nursing home to be fined for such actions. Across the U.S., merely one out of every 75 nursing homes that received an infection control citation were penalized financially.

This is disturbing, since many types of infections could be avoided if proper measures are taken. In fact, a federal report revealed that 25 percent of medical injuries nursing home residents who have Medicare suffer are due to infections. Infection is one of the most common reasons a nursing home resident will be hospitalized. And, it is estimated that infections incurred in health care facilities lead to approximately 380,000 fatalities annually.

Complicating this issue is the fact that the average hospital stay is shrinking. Nursing home residents may be sent back to the nursing home from the hospital before they are completely well. It is expected that they will continue to recover in the nursing home. However, this means that these nursing home residents have compromised immune systems, making them more prone to contracting an infection if appropriate measures are not taken.

This information may be concerning to those who have loved ones in nursing homes. After all, nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious issue. Nursing homes should practice appropriate infection control measures to keep residents from getting sick. If they don't, then the resident or his or her loved ones may want to determine whether it is appropriate to pursue compensation in order to hold the nursing home accountable for its negligence.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Infection lapses are rampant in nursing homes but punishment is rare," Jordan Rau, Dec. 21, 2017

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