Infections in nursing homes kill 400,000 residents a year according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The authors contend that nearly one-sixth of the US nursing homes have significant deficiencies in infection control. Over 100,000 patient encounters were reviewed. The University of Pittsburgh Public Health program researchers analyzed records from 2000 through 2007 and found that infection control citations in 96% of US nursing homes were linked to lower nursing staff levels.
Infections are leading cause of morbidity and mortality in U.S. nursing homes. This study reminds us of the direct link between professional staffing levels and safe care for our most vulnerable citizens. Those who are family members and advocates for seniors need to keep speaking up and asking questions about the infection rates and infection control requirements at long term care facilities.