5 Reasons Why Urinary Tract Infections Happen in Nursing Home Residents—And How They Can Be Prevented - Terry Law Firm

5 Reasons Why Urinary Tract Infections Happen in Nursing Home Residents—And How They Can Be Prevented

St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers Explains Why Nursing Homes Are Often At Fault When Residents Get Urinary Tract Infections

For most people, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a nuisance.  But for elderly patients, a UTI could be incredibly painful, debilitating, and even life-threatening.  For residents of Missouri nursing homes or rehabilitation centers who are ill, recovering from a procedure/injury, or in a weakened state, a UTI may be a medical emergency and result in the wrongful death of a resident.  This is a known problem too, as government research reveals that UTIs are the second most common infection in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.  The problem is so prolific that research has shown that an average of 5.4% of nursing home residents suffer from a UTI at any given time.  That may not sound like a large number by itself, but with the CDC reporting that there are about 1.4 million people in nursing homes throughout the United States, that is 75,600 residents suffering from a UTI at any given time.  Wow!

There is no question that some elderly residents are prone to urinary tract infections but, unfortunately many urinary tract infections are preventable because they are caused by reckless, careless, negligent, and otherwise sub-standard care by nursing homes in Missouri and throughout the country.  A urinary tract infection in a Missouri nursing home should not happen as often as it does if there is proper care and treatment to a resident.  Here are five leading reasons why urinary tract infections happen in nursing home residents.

1) Catheter use – It is probably not a surprise to anyone, but catheter use is linked to increased risk of a urinary tract infection in a Missouri nursing home.  This is especially true of nursing home residents.  Why?  Because a catheter is a device which is inserted into the urethra.  This introduces new bacteria into the body, traps bacteria between the sides of the catheter and the walls of the urethra. Even short term catheter use can result in some accumulation of bacteria at the entrance of the catheter inside the urethra.  Of course, the longer that a catheter is left inserted in a resident, the longer that bacteria has to fester and grow in an area where it is not supposed to be accumulating.  This can cause the urinary tract infection.  In addition, if a catheter is not properly sterilized prior to usage, a nursing home staff member could literally be putting bacteria into a resident and causing an infection.  Because the use of catheters is a known danger for causing urinary tract infections, nursing homes should be hyper-sensitive about monitoring and ensuring that the area remains clean and free from possible infection.  Unfortunately, most nursing homes are not careful enough.

2) Dehydration – When a resident is dehydrated, two things happen.  First, a resident is not urinating as frequently which means bacteria is allowed to sit inside the urinary tract to fester and grow into an infection.  Second, a resident’s immune system will weaken, his or her strength will drain, and a resident’s body will simply be less able to fight off even small amounts of bacteria.  This is why dehydration can significantly increase the risk of urinary tract infections.  Making sure a resident drinks enough water is about the easiest thing a nursing home can do, but far too many fall short (usually because of insufficient staffing).

3) Poor Hygienic Practices – While a urinary tract infection can happen even with good hygiene most of the time it is poor hygienic practices that will result in an infection.  When a resident is dependent upon a nursing home to provide his or her hygiene, poor hygiene practices are solely the responsibility of the facility. Poor hygiene could happen because a nursing home staff member is rushing due to understaffing, it could be due to poor training or it could be due to simple oversight.  A common cause of urinary tract infections in women is when staff members literally introduce bacteria into the resident’s body by simply wiping a resident the wrong way or failing to wipe at all.  Virtually any time a urinary tract infection is caused by e-coli (feces) it is because nursing home staff members left residents lying in their feces for long periods of time or use improper cleaning techniques when wiping a resident.  Both are completely irresponsible.

4) Diabetes – At first glance you may say how can a Missouri nursing home be responsible for a urinary tract infection caused by diabetes.  After all, the nursing home did not give the resident diabetes, right?  Well, even though a nursing home could give a resident diabetes with poor nutrition and feeding habits, the real reason why a nursing home could be responsible for a resident developing diabetes, a urinary tract infection may result when the nursing home fails to properly manage the resident’s diabetes in the first place!  When a resident with diabetes has very high sugar levels, that sugar accumulates in the resident’s urine.  That high sugar content urine sits in the bladder and the bacteria the occurs naturally in the bladder will grow incredibly fast and the time for an infection to occur will be drastically reduced.  In addition, residents with diabetes have a weakened immune system.  Whether or not their blood sugar number is off the charts, a resident with diabetes needs to be more closely monitored for complications such as a urinary tract infection. 

5) Immobility – A resident that is immobile has an increased risk of urinary tract infections.  Why?  Because he or she does not have the ability to go use the restroom when he or she wants to. The longer that a bladder sits full, the more that the bacteria inside will multiply.  Far too often, residents are left to “hold it” way too long as they wait for a nursing home employee to help them to the bathroom. This long and unnecessary delay is a recipe for  urinary tract problems.  Immobile residents are  at the mercy of caregivers, and if the nursing home is understaffed or mismanaged, a resident could be waiting for a long time for assistance.

Did a Loved One Suffer a Urinary Tract Infection in a Missouri Nursing Home?  Call Us for Help

Anytime a resident suffers a urinary tract infection in a Missouri nursing home the resident or the resident’s family should call our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer to learn how we can help.  While a UTI could occur due to normal complications and risks, most times it is an indicator that something is wrong at a nursing home.  You are paying nursing homes a lot of money to care for your loved one, and a urinary tract infection is simply a sign that they are not getting the care they require or deserve.  Call to schedule a FREE appointment with the Terry Law Firm to learn what your rights are by dialing (314) 334-1441.

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