Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

Why Do UTIs in Nursing Homes Happen So Often?

A UTI can be a sign of nursing home neglect

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection that occurs when bacteria enters the urinary system. This type of infection can impact the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. UTIs in nursing homes pose a significant health threat to elderly residents.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of UTIs in nursing homes often points to underlying neglect and abuse. This raises critical questions about care standards and the legal rights of residents and their families.

The attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates in Pittsburgh have seen the devastating effects of nursing home neglect. Our legal team is committed to holding negligent nursing homes accountable when their failure to act leads to serious health conditions or fatalities among residents.

How often do UTIs happen in nursing homes?

UTIs rank as the second most common infection in long-term care settings, trailing only respiratory infections. For example, research from Duke University Medical Center physicians found that UTI prevalence among nursing home residents ranges from 0.6% to 21.8%.

This variation can be affected by diagnostic methods, resident demographics, antibiotic use, and other factors. The seriousness of these infections can't be overstated. Untreated UTIs can lead to severe complications such as sepsis or kidney failure.

Common risk factors of UTIs in nursing homes

According to the Cleveland Clinic, women are particularly at risk, with a lifetime incidence rate of 50 to 60 percent.

Additionally, residents over the age of 85 are at a high risk of UTIs. According to the National Institutes of Health, 30% of residents in this age group have experienced UTS within the course of one year.

The use of catheters also significantly increases the risk of a UTI. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that catheters are involved in about 75% of nursing home UTI cases.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Reduced mobility: Limited mobility or prolonged bed rest can lead to urinary stasis and increase the risk of a UTI infection.
  • Incontinence: Incontinence can lead to skin irritation and may increase the risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract, especially if incontinence care is not properly managed.
  • Compromised immune systems: Many nursing home residents have weakened immune systems due to age or underlying health conditions. This makes them more susceptible to UTIs and other bacterial infections.
  • A history of UTIs: A history of urinary tract infections increases the likelihood of future infections.

Causes and signs of UTIs in nursing homes

Unsanitary conditions are a prevalent cause of UTIs in nursing homes. This is often the result of:

  • Infrequent bedsheet changes
  • Improper catheter care
  • Delayed diaper changes
  • Poor overall hygiene standards

Other common causes include:

  • Lack of knowledge of UTI symptoms among staff
  • Lack of training on UTI prevention protocols
  • Insufficient hydration for residents

UTIs often present a variety of symptoms. The most common ones include:

  • A burning sensation during urination
  • An increased urge to urinate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Cloudy urine and/or blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Fever or chills
  • Increased tiredness, lethargy, and confusion

An untreated UTI can lead to several serious consequences. While UTIs typically exist in the lower urinary tract, they can spread to the kidneys, which can potentially lead to permanent kidney damage. Plus, delaying treatment can possibly lead to bladder damage, urethral narrowing, and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

UTI prevention in nursing homes

Nursing homes have a duty to prevent UTIs in residents. Education and staff training are important for recognizing the UTI signs, catheter care, and understanding the specific needs of residents at high risk of UTIs.

Nursing home staff should also ensure that residents are adequately hydrated, encourage regular bathroom breaks, and provide assistance as needed. Additionally, nursing homes should provide a balanced diet, avoid unnecessary antibiotics, and monitor high-risk residents for symptoms.

How are UTIs diagnosed and treated?

When diagnosing a UTI, a doctor conducts a medical history and symptom assessment, followed by a physical examination to look for physical signs of a UTI. A doctor will also likely conduct a urine test to determine the type of bacteria present.

Treatment for UTIs often includes the use of antibiotics, increased fluid intake, and pain management. A doctor may also conduct follow-up urine tests to ensure that the infection has cleared.

What should I do if my loved one has experienced a UTI in a nursing home?

In Pennsylvania, nursing home neglect that leads to UTIs often triggers investigations by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health and other agencies. These investigations focus on compliance with state and federal laws but don't address compensation for families affected by nursing home neglect.

If your loved one has experienced a UTI in a Western Pennsylvania nursing home, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure they receive appropriate care and justice. Here’s a guide on what to do:

  • Ensure that your loved one receives immediate medical attention.
  • Make sure that the prescribed treatment is followed correctly and observe how your loved one responds to the treatment.
  • Discuss the situation with the nursing home staff. Find out how the UTI was identified and what steps are being taken to treat it.
  • Check if proper hygiene and care procedures are being followed in the nursing home.
  • Make sure your loved one is receiving adequate fluids and a balanced diet.
  • Inquire about what preventative measures the nursing home has in place to reduce the risk of UTIs.
  • Keep a record of all communications, medical reports, and treatments related to the UTI.
  • Consult with an experienced nursing home neglect and abuse attorney. They can help you build a strong legal claim and protect your rights.

How long do I have to file a nursing home neglect claim for a UTI?

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a nursing home neglect claim is two years. This means you have two years from the date the negligence occurred to take action.

However, it’s best to act as soon as possible. When it comes to nursing home neglect cases, evidence can disappear quickly. The sooner you speak to an attorney and begin the claims process, the easier it will be for your attorney to gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.

Pursuing a nursing home neglect claim

Nursing home neglect claims are typically complex. To have a viable claim, you’ll need to prove that neglect directly caused your loved one harm. Nursing home staff members and administrators will sometimes go to great lengths to cover up any wrongdoing on their part.

That’s why you need a strong legal advocate on your side. An attorney at Hal Waldman & Associates in Pittsburgh can launch a thorough investigation into the facility where your loved one experienced a UTI. If the facility failed to uphold its standards of care or abide by state and federal regulations, we’ll get to the bottom of it and hold them accountable.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact us online or call our Pittsburgh law office for a free consultation. This gives you an opportunity to discuss your situation, receive honest answers to questions, and understand your potential legal options.

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