MRSA Infections in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes and their staff must provide safe and clean environments for their elderly residents. Residents are vulnerable to infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) due to their advanced age, intensive medical treatments, and weakened immune systems.
However, neglect from staff members and lack of infection control can play a role in an MRSA outbreak in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports over 70,000 severe infections and 9,000 deaths are attributed to MRSA annually. A California infection trial lawyer at Berberian Ain Law LLP can help you hold a nursing home liable if a loved one’s serious illness or passing from an MRSA infection.
What is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that causes staph infections. This type of bacteria is known for its resistance to antibiotics and ability to spread quickly if there are no infection control procedures. Anyone can get MRSA through skin-to-skin contact, crowding, and shared supplies. MRSA can break out in shared facilities such as military barracks, athletic teams, and healthcare facilities like nursing homes.
What does MRSA look Like?
Upon contracting MRSA, a bump can look like a spider bite at the site of the infection on the skin. A fever can accompany an MRSA infection. Other MRSA symptoms include the following at the infection site:
- Red or pinkish
- Tender and painful to the touch
- Pus or drainage-filled
Antibiotics such as vancomycin, linezolid, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or emergency surgery to drain boils, are all part of MRSA treatment. If not treated right away, MRSA can cause the following complications in severe cases:
- Blood infections
- Infections around a surgical site
How common is MRSA in care facilities?
Nursing homes are susceptible to MRSA and other staph infections. The following statistics reveal the extent to which MRSA can spread throughout a nursing home facility:
- Approximately 5% of hospital patients have MRSA in their nasal passages and on their skin.
- Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School reported that about 1 in 4 residents have MRSA in nursing home settings.
- A 2019 study of 7 nursing homes found that 20.1% of the surfaces contained MRSA. The infectious bacteria was much more prominent in nursing homes in urban areas with a 36.5% detection rate, compared to 16.9% in suburban nursing homes.
How does MRSA occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities?
The most vulnerable residents at risk of an MRSA infection are those who need extensive medical treatment and care. They also come from other facilities where they were at risk of exposure to MRSA from other staff members and residents. These residents must have had recent exposure to the following to contract an MRSA infection.
- Drug injection with needles
- Recent intensive procedures such as surgeries
- Invasive medical devices like catheters
- Skin-to-skin interaction with other people, including nursing home staff members
- Physical contact with contaminated surfaces
To prevent an MRSA outbreak, healthcare facilities must ensure their residents are safe with clean equipment and frequent screening. They must also train their staff to wash their hands frequently whenever they come into contact with their residents.
What healthcare facilities can do to prevent MRSA in elderly residents
The CDC advises healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and assisted care facilities, to have these strategies in place to protect residents from MRSA infections:
- Before and after every patient interaction, every provider and staff member must wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol rub.
- Healthcare facilities must use equipment, such as stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, for one patient at a time, disinfect between each use, and opt for single-use equipment when possible.
- If shared medical equipment is unavoidable, carefully clean it before every use with a patient.
All healthcare facilities must have infection control policies to screen residents for MRSA after discharge from another medical facility, such as intensive care or acute care facilities. Residents who test positive for MRSA must go into a private room. When treating patients with MRSA, healthcare providers must wear gloves and gowns over their clothing.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to follow MRSA prevention procedures, resulting in outbreaks among vulnerable residents.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect and MRSA
MRSA infections can lie with inadequate training and understaffing, which are common in the nursing home industry. A University of Michigan Medical School study notes that healthcare workers can quickly spread MRSA to other residents. MRSA outbreaks are much more likely when there is no guidance for using protective gear like gloves and gowns when caring for different residents.
The nursing home industry is known for its low pay for workers and demanding workload, resulting in a high staff turnover. For instance, one study found that staff turnover at nursing homes is high at 128%.
A review of several studies reported that nursing homes hired temporary workers, and workers often moved from one facility to another. They found that temporary staff members could be a key source of infections in nursing homes. Nursing homes with fewer registered nurses and more temporary workers were also more likely to have infectious outbreaks among residents.
Due to frequent turnover and the use of temporary workers, medical care and tasks are spread thin, resulting in the neglect of elderly residents’ basic need for personal hygiene. A nursing home can be held liable if it fails to take substantial measures to prevent and treat MRSA to protect its residents’ well-being.
Glendale Infection Attorney – Berberian Ain LLP
An MRSA outbreak can be dangerous at a nursing home or an assisted living facility. An uncontrolled outbreak can increase the possibility of your loved one suffering serious complications or dying from the infection.
In either of those cases, you may hold the facility liable with the help of a Glendale infection lawyer at Berberian Ain Law Firm LLP. We can help you seek justice and hold a negligent nursing facility accountable for abuse, improper infection control, or understaffing that led to the illness or death of your loved one.
Contact our law firm today to schedule a free evaluation with a California infection trial lawyer to discuss your case.