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Illinois Nursing Home Infections May Be Caused By Understaffing

A Chicago nursing home lawyer who has spent a few years in the field soon becomes aware that more resident may be killed every year from infections than from any other single medical problem. Nationwide nearly 400,000 nursing home deaths occur each year because of infections. Therefore, getting to the bottom of the cause of many of those infections would go a long way to save a huge number of lives. UPI News recently published a summary of a major nursing home research study that attempted to do just that.

According to the report out of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, understaffing at these nursing homes and assisted living facilities may be one of the prime causes of the killer infections. The study used over seven years of Medicare and Medicaid data involving over 16,000 nursing homes-essentially 96% of all homes in the country.

The infection data from these facilities was compared against certification information on staffing levels. A strong correlation was found between the inadequate staffing levels and increased infections among nursing home residents.

One of the study’s authors offers a succinct summary of the important findings: “The issue of staffing is very prominent in our finding; that is, 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.”

Just like infection control prevention in hospitals, many simple acts (like hand washing) can go a long way to save lives. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge all those who have loved ones in these homes to ensure that local caregivers are taking all precautions to minimize infections. The lives of many vulnerable lives are on the line, and so there is no excuse for risky and unsafe practices.

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