Study Finds Infection Control Violations at Many Nursing Homes

Nursing homes have been plagued with reports of <"">physical, chemical, and sexual abuse and nanny cams have caught nursing home workers abusing residents. Now adding to that list of indignities, Science Daily reports that 15 percent of nursing homes in the United States have received deficiency citations for the ways in which they manage infection.

The percentages are annual and the study was published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), said Science Daily.

Conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health the research reviewed deficiency citation data collected for Medicare/Medicaid certification from 2000-2007 representing about 96 percent of U.S. nursing home facilities, 16,000 nursing homes (annually), and 100,000 observations, explained Science Daily. The team found a strong link between low staffing and infection control deficiency citations.

Science Daily pointed out that it is infections that lead to increased morbidity and mortality rates in these facilities, resulting in some 400,000 fatalities annually.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandates “nursing homes be certified before receiving reimbursement for Medicare and/or Medicaid residents,” said Science Daily, which noted facilities are issued deficiency citations if specific standards are not met, said Science Daily. This research looked at the deficiency citations issued for infection control requirements called the F-Tag 441.

“Our analysis may provide some clues as to the reason for the persistent infection control problems in nursing homes,” stated the authors, quoted Science Daily. “Most significantly, the issue of staffing is very prominent in our findings; that is, for all three caregivers examined (i.e., nurse aides, LPNs and RNs) low staffing levels are associated with F-Tag 441 citations. With low staffing levels, these caregivers are likely hurried and may skimp on infection control measures, such as hand hygiene…. The high number of deficiency citations for infection control problems identified in this study suggests the need for increased emphasis on these programs in nursing homes to protect vulnerable elders,” quoted Science Daily.

We recently wrote that some nursing homes have been plagued with a potentially fatal drug-resistant infection, with over 350 cases reported in Southern California. The bacterium—Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP)—turned up at healthcare facilities in Los Angeles County and infected the elderly at skilled-nursing and long-term care facilities, according to a study led by Dr. Dawn Terashita, an epidemiologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Another emerging study on which we just wrote revealed that about one in seven older New Yorkers suffers from some type of elder or nursing home abuse. The Record Online cited a large study of residents over the age of 60 that found that in 2008 alone, a shocking one in 13 older New Yorkers was victimized. New York State is the operator of 2,000 group homes, which means that the state is responsible to care and protect about 10,000 residents with what The New York Daily News described as “severe physical and mental disabilities.” According to The New York Times, the state is not doing its job, wrote the Daily News, and group home abuse is running rampant.

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