What are the 4 leading causes of nursing home deaths?
Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable people. When placing a loved one into a facility, we like to think we can trust that they will receive the best care possible.
When nursing homes aren't properly maintained and cleaned, or staff members aren't qualified to provide care, residents are at a heightened risk of sustaining fatal injuries or illnesses.
If your loved one was seriously harmed or died because of the negligent or reckless actions of nursing home staff, an experienced attorney can help you explore your legal options.
Sepsis, a leading killer in nursing homes
Roughly 1 to 3 million serious infections occur in nursing homes each year across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As much as 380,000 nursing home deaths occur each year due to sepsis caused by infections.
Sepsis occurs when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection. Instead, it induces inflammation and causes the body to go into septic shock. The patient's blood pressure then drops to dangerous levels and damages vital organs.
Nursing home infections often include:
- Bedsores — Contagious bacterial or viral infections don't lead to bedsores. Bedsores occur when residents remain in static positions for hours at a time.
- Urinary tract infections — An infection that affects the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.
- Pneumonia — A lung disease caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The air sacs in the lungs fill up with mucus, making it difficult to breathe.
- Influenza — A viral respiratory illness that is highly contagious and often deadly.
- Diarrheal diseases — Norovirus and other gastrointestinal infections can lead to serious dehydration.
- Antibiotic-resistant staph infections — A serious bacterial skin infection that is resistant to commonly-used antibiotics.
Falls the leading cause of nursing home deaths
According to the CDC, millions of people ages 65 and older fall each year. About 3 million of these falls result in emergency room visits each year. Fall-related deaths among older adults have increased by 30 percent from 2007 to 2016. They now account for 62 deaths per 100,000 older adults. About 32.6 percent of older adults in Alabama fall each year, which is higher than the national average.
Even older adults who survive falls are likely to fall again. Some of the leading causes of falls in nursing homes include:
- Slippery floors
- Uneven surfaces, loose wires, and clutter
- Malnutrition, such as vitamin D deficiency
- Lower body weakness and difficulty with balance
- Lack of exercise and/or mobility
- Sedative or antidepressant medications
- Poor footwear and/or foot pain
Complications caused by medication errors
Nursing home residents are often prescribed certain medications to manage:
- Blood pressure
- Mental health disorders
- Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
- Thyroid issues
- Blood clots
- Pain and discomfort
- Digestive issues
Medical staff have a duty to ensure that the proper medication is being administered in the right dosage.
Medication errors can lead to serious side effects such as:
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and disorientation
- Diarrhea or constipation
Some residents have reportedly died after being prescribed dangerous antipsychotic drugs, according to AARP.
Nursing home deaths caused by abuse and neglect
In far too many cases, nursing homes fail to properly screen staff members — some of whom have a prior history of abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect often lead to nursing home deaths when staff members:
- Ignore a resident who is experiencing serious health complications or pain.
- Fail to provide proper medication or mix up medications.
- Neglect residents' hygiene and nutritional needs.
- Become physically abusive to residents.
These examples happen more often than we like to think, yet they are often preventable. That's why the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Braswell Murphy & Grubb are dedicated to helping families of victims seek answers and justice. Our legal team will launch an investigation into the facility where your loved one was harmed. We'll leave no stone unturned when helping you devise a strong legal cases.
Our law offices are located in Mobile, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia. Contact us online today to schedule your free case evaluation.