- Between 1 and 3 million serious infections occur in long-term care facilities every year.
- As many as 380,000 residents die annually because of infections in long- term care facilities.
Infection Prevention Can Benefit Up To 3 Million Long-Term Care Residents A Year
Health care acquired infections are an ongoing concern in the long-term care community. The insertion of catheters and usage of intravenous equipment leave residents bodies exposed to external pathogens. Any length of stay in a long-term care hospital can be risky because residents are surrounded by other sick people. This is why infection prevention is so essential. For any health care facility, this means being mindful of environmental sources of infection, such as ventilation and water systems, as well as regularly disinfecting any surfaces that residents have physical contact with, including laundry.
Infection prevention can be particularly challenging for long-term care facilities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1 and 3 million serious infections occur in this setting every year. Furthermore, as many as 380,000 residents die annually because of these incidents.
There are several reasons for this, according to a Belgian study published in Infectious Disease Clinics in North America. Specifically, the residents of nursing homes are confined in clusters and tend to participate in group activities. They also tend to be physically fragile due to advanced age and are likely to be living with several chronic diseases, some of which may weaken the immune system. The presence of cognitive disabilities may also hamper residents' abilities to use good hygiene practices, such as regular hand-washing.
As for the facilities themselves, common infection prevention guidelines that are relevant to hospitals may be harder to translate to nursing homes and other places that provide long-term care. This can be a product of insufficient staff training or understaffing.
What are the consequences of poor infection prevention?
Typical pathogens in nursing homes include Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Clostridium difficile. The CDC also noted that that influenza, norovirus, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are problematic.
According to the researchers from Belgium, the most common infections in nursing homes include diseases of the skin, as well as the respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal systems. Sixty percent of lower respiratory tract infections are pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections often cause diarrhea, which can lead to severe dehydration.
As the population ages, infection prevention will become more important as the residency within nursing homes, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities grows. As of 2008, more than 3 million enrollees in Medicare and Medicaid were living in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, while nearly 1 million more were in assisted living.
Adequate staffing with sufficiently trained workers is essential for infection prevention anywhere, and the right equipment can also provide a significant boost. AliMed offers several medical products - including gait belts, and bed positioners that are manufactured with antimicrobial protective coating - that can aid in infection prevention efforts. There are also transfer devices.
- UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER, "Infections in Residents of Nursing Homes"
- Nursing Homes and Assisted Living (Long-term Care Facilities)
- Nursing Homes and Assisted Living (Long-term Care Facilities) – Resident Information