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Something is Buggy in Nursing Homes

superbugs in nursing homes
July 25, 2017

Something has been bugging professionals, family members and communities about nursing homes, and their concerns are completely warranted.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, nursing-home residents are especially susceptible to drug-resistant infections because of their age, weak immune systems and many preexisting illnesses.


Super-susceptible to Superbugs

The article states that between 11% to 59% of these residents have been colonized with various types of superbugs which makes them that much more vulnerable to developing a full-on infection. In the same article, Dr. Theresa Madaline, a clinical director of Infectious Disease Services at Montefiore Health System in Bronx, NY states, “if you are colonized, the likelihood you will get a drug-resistant infection will be much higher” to treat. 


An article from describes an unfortunate example of a nursing home outbreak: beginning in January of 2014 a nursing home in New Mexico named Casa Maria was plagued with an outbreak of c.difficile, an infection that is an inflammation of the colon and is characterized by recurrent diarrhea and abdominal cramping.  The nursing home’s staff downplayed the seriousness of the situation and by June of that year, fifteen residents had been infected and eight had died.  Even more alarmingly, the public had never been informed of the outbreak until a much later date. 


Alarmingly, there are few measures in place which require nursing homes to report their rates of infection.  According to the same Wall Street Journal article, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created an option that allowed nursing homes to report and monitor cases of superbugs; however, out of around 15,700 nursing homes in the United States, less than 2% had volunteered to join the network by the end of 2015.  Currently, only roughly 16% of the nursing homes have signed up according to an analysis by Columbia Nursing School. 

Understaffing in Nursing Homes a Big Problem

The analysis paper from the Columbia Nursing School explains that controlling infections in nursing homes is difficult because of understaffing, less resources, inadequate training and poor surveillance.  However, the awareness of these deficiencies should only serve as a reason for nursing homes to be required to revamp their current methods and raise their standards.


A spotlight is certainly on nursing home abuse as people are becoming more concerned with nursing residents receiving proper care as they have noticed the trend of residents who have become sick with superbugs.  If you or a loved one have suffered from a drug-resistant infection while at a nursing home, please call my office for a free consultation.