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Analysis finds lack of infection control common in nursing homes

An analysis based on a review of inspection records over several years has found that nearly 75 percent of nursing homes have notable lapses in infection control procedures. These lapses involve many basic infection control methods, such as hand-washing and keeping contagious patients away from other residents. This is coupled with a growing concern over the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs in healthcare facilities in New Jersey and throughout the United States.

Results of the analysis also show that disciplinary action is not common. A high-level citation was only issued to one of the 75 homes found to have violations during the years reviewed. Even though insufficient infection control may be considered a form of medical malpractice, facilities may not be motivated to make changes if they are only given a warning with little or no follow-up. According to a federal report, avoidable infections account for about a fourth of the injuries experienced by Medicare recipients in nursing homes.

Healthcare-related infections may contribute to nearly 400,000 deaths annually, according to one estimate. Despite this sobering statistic, the agency that oversees nursing home inspections, the American Health Care Association, insists that they are not lax in violations, stating that fines aren’t warranted if there is no clear danger to residents. The American Health Care Association also believes efforts are being made to improve conditions with better staff training.

There are many forms of negligence, including a failure to take steps to prevent the spread of infection among vulnerable nursing home residents. If negligence is suspected when individuals are in a nursing home or hospital, a lawyer may review staff procedures to determine if appropriate actions were taken to prevent infections from either becoming worse or being spread from exposure to a contagious patient. Legal actions sometimes involves seeking appropriate compensation for additional medical care, mental suffering or damages for wrongful death.