Infection control failures are the most common errors in nursing homes, a matter of heightened concern with the spread of the coronavirus. Residents and their families and friends can discover which of the nation’s 15,000 facilities have been cited for infection-control violations in recent years through a Kaiser Health News lookup tool published March 12. CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERACTIVE TOOL. Then enter your city and state.
More nursing homes have been fined for failing to follow safe practices to prevent and control infections — such as staffers washing their hands before and after helping each resident and wearing gowns and masks around contagious patients — than for any other type of error. Proper training and practice include instructing workers on all the precautions they should take to avoid contracting and transmitting diseases, such as washing hands, disinfecting equipment and distributing linens and cleaning laundry in a hygienic manner, wear protective equipment, such as gowns, masks and gloves, and tells them exactly how to remove the equipment. It must also describe when a potentially contagious resident should be isolated and how long that should last. Such common lapses have become matters of heightened concern with the spread of the coronavirus, especially as the virus is a significant threat to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Infections are always an issue for skilled nursing facilities because of short-staffing. As many as 3.8 million occur in homes each year, killing nearly 388,000 residents. Bacteria and viruses can spread through unclean urinary catheters used by residents or enter the body through open bedsores or pressure injuries and wounds. Influenza and a serious infection caused by a bacteria known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can also spread from casual contact among residents and visitors. The infection threats have grown more serious with the spread of bacteria such as MRSA that are resistant to antibiotics.