Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents

Drug-resistant bacteria are one of the biggest concerns of modern medical science, posing a serious health threat, especially for vulnerable people like seniors. But according to a new study out of Columbia University School of Nursing, many nursing homes are rife with drug-resistant strains of bacteria, such as E. coli. Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents
Based on data from several independent studies around the world, the researchers found that more than a quarter of nursing home residents were carriers of drug-resistant bacteria. The researchers found that this number was even higher in America, with nearly 40% of American nursing home residents considered colonized. Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents
The study sheds light on the higher risk of infection faced by all seniors and has raised concerns over the conditions of American nursing homes, with researchers calling for stricter infection control protocols.

Colonization Rate as High at 59.1% in Some Studies

Published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the Columbia study went over 327 pieces of published research to find studies that met the standards needed for meta-analysis. The researchers found twelve studies that met the criteria for review and eight studies met the criteria for meta-analysis of colonization rates. The final meta-analysis of colonization rates included data from 2,720 nursing home residents from the US, Germany, and Korea. 1,669 of the residents sampled came from the US.
The researchers found that colonization rates varied from study to study. One study out of Germany reported that only 11.2% of residents sampled were colonized by drug-resistant bacteria. Another, out of America, reported a colonization rate of 59.1%. Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents
When the researchers averaged the data, they found that 27% of nursing home residents in the studies were colonized with drug-resistant bacteria. In the American studies, the average rate was even higher: 38%. Across the eight studies, the most common type of drug-resistant bacteria detected was E. coli, but they also detected high rates of bacteria like P. mirabilis, P. stuartii, K. pneumoniae, and M. morganii.

Putting the Results in Context

These findings come at a time when concerns about drug-resistant bacteria are on the rise. According to the CDC, over two million Americans become infected with drug-resistant bacteria each year, resulting in upwards of 23,000 deaths. What’s more, the percentage of bacteria that are considered drug-resistant are on the rise.
Elderly persons are especially vulnerable to infection from drug-resistant bacteria. Factors like advanced age, a weakened immune system, and chronic health conditions increase the risk that seniors will become infected by drug-resistant bacteria. They also increase the risk of mortality when infection occurs.
Seniors in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are already known to be at higher risk of bacterial infection. There are a number of reasons for this increased risk, including the number of vulnerable residents in nursing facilities, poor disinfection protocols, and communal living arrangements. According to the NCBI, the average American long-term care facility resident suffers one infection each year because of this increased risk.
Sainfer Allyu, who headed the Columbia study, says that the study’s results underscore the need for better disinfection protocols in nursing homes. “The results of our study suggest that there is much more to be done with regard to infection prevention within nursing homes, and that increased measures must be taken with elderly patients in regard to [drug-resistant bacteria] colonization.”
The study also comes at a time when Americans are becoming more and more uneasy with nursing home care for their loved ones. Studies and surveys have shown that an increasing number of American seniors and their families wish to avoid nursing home care for as long as possible.
Instead, many seniors receive care at home from family members or friends. In other cases, families delay the need for a move to a long-term care facility by hiring a professional caregiver. By receiving care at home, seniors avoid the risk of infection posed by many nursing home environments.
“Keeping seniors safe and comfortable is what we do. Helping them stay in a place where they can be healthy is part of that,” says Larry Meigs, CEO and President of Visiting Angels, one of America’s largest home care companies. If you are considering home care for a loved one, you can book a free, in-home consultation by contacting your nearest Visiting Angels officeDrug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents
Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in 38% of US Nursing Home Residents

About the Author

Richard Bitner

Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.

Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.

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