Aging adults—those who are 65 and above—have a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs) because they are more prone to mobility and bladder issues than younger people. For instance, their weaker bladder tissue could make it harder for them to hold or relieve themselves.
When the urine stays in the bladder for a few hours, bacteria may grow and spread into the urinary tract—putting them at higher risk for developing UTIs because they already have problems emptying their bladder.
In nursing homes, most of the elderly can no longer care for themselves entirely. So, they rely on caregivers and healthcare providers for their hygiene, nutrition, and checking of symptoms for any health condition, including UTI. If a caregiver fails or neglects to help a nursing home resident use the bathroom or change their diaper when needed, the resident may develop a UTI.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection, which is the infection of the urinary system, such as the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra, is common among the elderly. Your loved one may develop UTI in the nursing home if bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Chlamydia, and mycoplasma bacteria enter the urethra.
These bacteria can infect the urethra in many ways, such as catheter use and soiled diapers. The nursing home staff must be extra-careful in checking for symptoms of UTI because the elderly may also have other ailments that may hide the symptoms of UTI. Conditions like ovarian cysts (for women) and yeast infections, bladder cancer, and Lyme disease mimic the signs of a urinary tract infection.
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What are the Symptoms of a UTI?
A person with a UTI may complain of any or all of the following:
· A strong, persistent urge to urinate
· Burning feeling when you urinate
· Cloudy, bloody, or dark urine
· Strong smelling urine
· Pain in the upper back and side, or lower abdomen
Is UTI Preventable?
A urinary tract infection is not 100% preventable. Still, the caregivers in a nursing home can take steps to reduce the elder’s chance of developing a UTI, or for an existing UTI to worsen. These include drinking the right amount of water, wiping properly so bacteria does not enter the urethra, and changing diapers or checking catheters.
What Happens When the Nursing Home Fails to Recognize the Symptoms of a UTI?
Untreated UTIs will not go away on their own. When the healthcare providers ignore the symptoms or fail to detect it early, the bacteria may spread to the bladder and kidneys. It may lead to severe infections that may require urgent hospitalization. In some rare circumstances, the infection can spread to the blood and cause sepsis, a life-threatening medical condition that can cause death.
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What Health Interventions Should the Nursing Home Order to Diagnose a UTI?
Healthcare professionals are aware that bacteria from the gut and anus can cause a UTI. So, they have to make sure that they conduct routine checks on the residents:
Check for Possible Causes of a UTI
Many residents in the nursing home who have problems urinating and those with mobility issues are prone to this condition because of situations where the bacteria quickly travels from the gut and anus to the urinary tract. When the catheter gets infected, or when the fecal material from the anus gets into the urethra, the bacteria travel to the urinary system.
Order Laboratory Tests to Confirm Symptoms
As a health protocol, healthcare providers should conduct routine checks on the residents to detect the presence of UTI as early as possible. When they find at least any indication that UTI develops, they should immediately conduct a diagnostic test.
Laboratory studies for persons with UTI:
· Urine culture
· Leukocyte esterase dipstick or urinalysis
· Blood culture
When the doctor suspects co-existing conditions that may mimic the symptoms of UTI, they may order a CT scan to exclude obstruction and other kidney problems.
What Intervention Can Be Helpful in the Treatment of a UTI?
A nursing home resident with a UTI should receive proper UTI management which may include any or all of the following:
- Antibiotic/anti-infection agents
- Supportive therapy for the residents with fever, confusion, and dehydration, such as-
- Pain control medication
- Nonpharmacologic treatment for pain such as massage, relaxation, and distraction to decrease pain.
What Should I Do If My Loved One is Injured Because of a UTI in a Nursing Home?
If your loved one develops serious complications or dies because of a UTI, there is a potential case for negligence against the nursing home.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC to discuss whether your elderly loved one’s urinary tract infection might indicate neglect, abuse, or malpractice in a nursing home. Our compassionate team members are here to discuss your legal options with you. Call us today at (800) 959-1444 for a free case evaluation.