Preventable Nursing Home Infections Continue to Rise

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted November 13, 2014


A recent study highlights how infection problems in nursing homes throughout the U.S. have continued to increase in recent years, with viral hepatitis being the fastest growing category. However, with improved prevention measures, many of these nursing home infections could be avoided.

Researchers from Columbia University and the Rand Corporation presented the findings of a new study on nursing home infection rates last month at an infectious disease conference in Philadelphia.

Nursing Home Infection Lawyers

Nursing Home Lawyers

The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk are investigating potential nursing home neglect lawsuits for individuals throughout the United States. If you believe that a loved one suffered a severe nursing home infection or other injury that could have been prevented, request a free consultation.


The findings indicate that overall infection rates are increasing in many nursing homes nationwide, with a infections being a leading cause of deaths and complications among nursing home residents.

Nursing home-acquired infections have been a long-standing problem, and many of these serious injuries or deaths can be prevented with proper training, infection control measures and staffing levels.

Researchers looked at data from Minimum Data Set assessments performed on nursing home residents every quarter from 2006 through 2011, which involved more than 14,000 nursing homes, with nearly 26 million assessments examined.

The most common form of infections in nursing homes were urinary tract infections (UTIs), which increased just one percent overall over the course of the study. Pneumonia, the second most common infection striking nursing home residents, shot up 11% during the study.

Infection rates went up the fastest and most significantly for viral hepatitis infections, which increased 48% over the time period observed. That was followed by drug resistant infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other hard-to-treat so-called “superbugs”, which increased 18% and put the health of residents in substantial danger.

As the lead author of the study, Carolyn Herzig, indicated in a press release issued by Columbia University regarding the study:

“Unless we can improve infection prevention and control in nursing homes, this problem is only going to get worse as baby boomers age and people are able to live longer with increasingly complex, chronic diseases.”

Nursing Home Infection Lawyers

According to prior data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it has been estimated that there are about 1.5 million infections in nursing homes and long-term care facilities each year.

In the process of investigating potential cases nationwide, the nursing home lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. often review cases involving infections. While it is challenging to establish in most cases that a severe injury or death was the result of a preventable infections, there are clearly steps that facilities can take to reduce and nearly eliminate the risk.

Similar to practices that can be taken to prevent hospital infections, simple prevention measures can have a significant impact on infection rates. When steps are not taken to reduce the risk of infections, it is often a sign of other problems at a nursing home.

In many cases, severe infections follow the development of nursing home bedsores or other underlying injuries caused by negligent care.

As Herzig goes on to point out in the press release:

“When you walk into a nursing home for the first time, you should easily spot hand sanitizer dispensers or hand-washing stations. If you don’t see this, it’s an indication that infection control and prevention may be lacking at the facility.”

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