Preventable infections are among the most common and most disturbing signs of nursing home abuse. Title 22, the California law that sets the standards for patient care in residential nursing facilities, requires that nursing staff take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of infections. Unfortunately, though, given the state’s aging population, many nursing homes in California are understaffed, and proper infection control is difficult to maintain when nursing home employees have an unmanageable workload. Even if the nursing home is adequately staffed, iatrogenic infections such as catheter-associated urinary tract (CAUTIs) infections are sometimes a sign of negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, or nursing home administrators. If your relative has suffered a CAUTI while being cared for in a nursing home, you might have grounds for a nursing home neglect lawsuit.
An iatrogenic infection is any infection caused by medical care, such as an infected surgical wound; if the doctor had not performed the surgery, there would have been no incision that could get infected. Likewise, a nosocomial infection is any infection acquired in a healthcare facility, including nursing homes, regardless of whether it was acquired through contagion or as a complication from a medical procedure. Catheter-associated UTIs can be either or both, and, unfortunately, they are very common in nursing homes.
Improper Use of Urinary Catheters Goes Against Title 22
Placing a urinary catheter always carries some risk of infection, even when healthcare workers stringently apply infection-control measures; normally, nothing enters the urethra, so inserting a catheter into it brings a heightened possibility of infection. Title 22 requires that nursing home employees only insert urinary catheters in cases where the patient absolutely needs them. If the patient is able to urinate on his or her own, even if the patient requires help with toileting, then the law requires that the patient not have a catheter. Assisting a patient with toileting is much more time-consuming than maintaining a urinary catheter, so understaffed nursing facilities sometimes leave patients catheterized longer than necessary. This goes against the spirit of Title 22, which is that nursing home employees have a duty to help patients maintain as much independence and mobility as possible.
Catheterizing a patient who is able to urinate is a violation of Title 22 in a similar way to giving patients other treatments that save time for the nursing home staff but which make it more difficult for patients to maintain their state of health. Other examples include confining a patient to a wheelchair when he or she can walk with assistance or placing a feeding tube for a patient who can chew but who requires assistance with feeding.
Contact Case Barnett About Nursing Home Abuse Cases
UTIs are very common in patients with urinary catheters, and they do not always indicate neglect, but at the same time, they could be a sign of a larger ongoing problem. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.