Poor Hygene Signs
One form of nursing home abuse, or more aptly, negligence, is lack of good hygiene. Proper hygiene among staff and patients is important for infection control in an environment such as a nursing home or hospital. In a setting where sickness is more common, hand-washing among the health care staff and keeping patients clean is of paramount importance.
Evidence of a Poor Hygienic Environment
When you visit a loved one or friend at a nursing home, you should notice how well good hygiene is observed. Nursing homes as well as hospitals are natural environments for the transmission of germs and sickness. There’s even a word to describe hospital-acquired infections — “nosocomial.”
Examples of evidence of an unclean environment and patient neglect are:
- Residents whose personal hygiene is neglected and who are left unbathed in dirty clothes
- Dirty sheets or blankets
- Patients who wear diapers or are incontinent and are not cleaned regularly
- Bathrooms and showers that are not cleaned often
- Unclean food preparation and serving areas
- Dirty counters, table tops and chairs (these need to be wiped numerous times daily)
- Improper disposal of medical and biological waste
- Dirty elevators
- Unclean closets
A study reported in the Journal of Applied Gerontology said infection rates are a result of too few staff members. According to the study, when facilities don’t have enough staff, caregivers are more likely to rush and not use proper hand-hygiene techniques.
A study of “deficiency citations” measuring a panel of 148,900 observations showed that a low level of nurse aides, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses correlated with more citations.
Things to Look For When Choosing a Nursing Home
Another article, printed by the Nursing Home Abuse Center organization, suggests that when you are evaluating nursing homes for your loved one, first examine the places patients would normally go such as a dining room and then examine the “not so common” areas such as closets, elevators or outdoor patios.
You can also tell how well the patients are taken care of by smells. Does the facility smell of urine and other foul odors? Do the patients look like they have clean, well groomed hair and clothes? Before selecting a nursing home, make a few visits to the facility and pay attention to way the staff interacts with the other patients.
Hand-washing ranks at the top for keeping infection rates down and preventing the spread of germs and disease. PubMed carried an article appearing in the Indian Journal of Medical Research entitled, “Hand Hygiene: Back to the Basics of Infection Control.”
The article said infections from health care facilities are “drawing increasing attention from patients, insurers, government and regulatory bodies. This is not only because of the magnitude of the problem in terms of the associated morbidity (sickness), mortality and cost of treatment but also due to the growing recognition that most of these are preventable. There is now undisputed evidence that strict adherence to hand hygiene reduces the risk of cross-transmission of infections.”
Poor Hygiene is a Form of Nursing Home Neglect
If your loved one is in a nursing home where good hygiene is not observed, and if she or he has developed a stubborn infection or serious infectious illness, you should consult a nursing home abuse lawyer to find out what your rights are. You and your loved one may be entitled to compensation for your loved ones maltreatment.