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Study Finds Many U.S. Nursing Homes Violating Infection-Control Standards

A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health revealed worrisome statistics about nursing-home infection control rates. After examining voluminous data from Medicare and Medicaid deficiency citations between 2000 and 2007, the study found that 15 percent of nursing homes violate infection-control standards each year.

Infections are the highest cause of death for nursing-home residents with numbers approaching 400,000 deaths annually. The authors of the study point to possible human error as a major cause for the rates stating finding a high correlation between insufficient staffing of aides and nurses and the federal deficiency citations (called F-Tag 441s).

Infection control measures such as properly sterilizing medical equipment, following safe hand-washing practices, disposing of facial tissues, and promptly removing trays with left-over food are frequent measures facilities may disregard or neglect to put in place.

"With low staffing levels, these caregivers are likely hurried and may skimp on infection control measures, such as hand hygiene," the study reports.

Elderly at High Risk for Developing Infections

The elderly, in particular, have trouble fighting infection because their immune systems have weakened, so following safe hygiene procedures in these environments is extremely vital.

While protecting patients from dangerous infections like HIV is imperative, for some seniors, getting a bad cold or the flu can be just as deadly and in a much shorter length of time. Providing clean environments and utilizing safe infection control practices can directly lengthen the lives of nursing-home residents.

Don't Stand for Nursing Home Negligence

Family members and friends must be vigilant to watch for signs of inadequate care in nursing home facilities.

If you have reason to believe the nursing-home facility your loved one is residing is not exercising proper and safe medical practices, it's important to take proactive measures to prevent possible infections in the future. Consulting with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney is recommended. Your attorney can advise you of the law and possible legal remedies available if harm results.