A strain of E. coli (Escherichia coli), a deadly bacteria, has been proliferating among our most vulnerable – nursing home residents.
A study published in the April 2013 issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology examined hundreds of samples of E. coli collected during a two month period in 2011. The antibiotic-resistant strain was identified in 27% of the samples. The likelihood of being infected by the strain increased with age.
Only 5% of E. coli samples collected from people aged 11-20 were of the bacteria-resistant strain, but fully 50% of samples collected from people aged 91-100 were bacteria-resistant. Obviously, most nonagenarians are going to be living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
What that boils down to is this: a virulent, deadly strain of a bacteria that is resistant to almost all known antibiotics has taken up residence in long term care facilities in the United States.
Nursing homes need to take immediate action to avoid being an accomplice in a massive epidemic. The actions they must take are simple but effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most effective way to prevent E. Coli outbreaks is to practice proper hygiene by washing hands, cooking food thoroughly, and washing all surfaces that come into contact with cooking and eating utensils.
Of course, it’s not enough to start a policy. Nursing homes need to provide training and adequate staffing to ensure that these prevention measures can be carried out. Washing hands requires at least 30-40 seconds. A safer number is one full minute.
All those minutes add up. When nursing homes are understaffed, proper hand washing is often the first thing to go.
If you have a loved one who has contracted preventable, life threatening illnesses in an Illinois nursing home, and you feel that nursing home neglect is to blame, contact our Chicago nursing home lawyers for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.