How to Minimize MRSA in a Nursing Home
Written by Jeff Meyer on June 21, 2015
How to Minimize MRSA in a Nursing Home
The spread of infectious bacteria can be a serious concern for people who reside in assisted living facilities. Even common bacteria can be troublesome when they are the root cause of a painful infection, and with medication-resistant strains of bacteria—such as MRSA—on the rise, the nuisance of bacterial infection can easily turn into a battle of life-and-death. Some MRSA infections in the elderly may result from nursing home abuse or neglect.
What Is MRSA?
MRSA is the acronym used for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and thus, incredibly difficult to treat. Two types of MRSA have been classified: community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) and hospital-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). So-called community-associated MRSA is spread by human contact with infected people, whereas hospital-associated MRSA tends to be contracted following surgical procedures and is spread via infected hospital equipment. It infects the skin, causing painful open, infected wounds that refuse to close and are very difficult to treat.
MRSA Infections Are Becoming More Common
These treatment-resistant infections are becoming alarmingly common, with more incidences arising every year. Research published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal in 2009 showed that CA-MRSA was becoming a more common sight in health care facilities and medical centers in spite of rigorous hygiene practices in place in such facilities. MRSA is a global concern, and it is especially concerning in places where large numbers of people congregate, such as assisted living facilities. If staff and residents do not remain vigilant about hygiene practices, MRSA and other bacteria are given a breeding ground to spread. In cases of nursing home abuse where neglect is taking place, MRSA infections can occur because of staff ignoring residents’ needs.
The Troubling Truth About MRSA
The fact is, MRSA can be virtually impossible to treat effectively once it has taken root in its host. It is a bacteria that resists normal avenues of medication treatment, and even the “super antibiotics” designed specifically for medication-resistant bacteria strains come with their own set of risks—not only increased incidence of unpleasant side effects, but contributing to a larger-scale problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotic treatment. It is feared that excessive use of “super antibiotics” could result in more bacterial strains that resist antibiotic treatment, leaving the possibility open for even more bugs like MRSA. However, lack of treatment only causes the bacteria to spread further, and once MRSA has infected a host, simple washing of the area will not be sufficient to treat the infection or prevent its further spread. In assisted living facilities where nursing home abuse takes the form of resident neglect, elderly and disabled people may contract a MRSA infection due to their health needs being ignored by their caregivers.
MRSA Infections Are Preventable
MRSA infections can be prevented when potential victims and caretakers remain on guard. One study published in the Journal of Correctional Health Care pointed out that “[s]trategies that focused on increased awareness, early detection and appropriate management, enhanced hygiene, and maintenance of a clean environment have proven successful in containing clusters and outbreaks of MRSA infection” (Malcolm, 2011).
If Someone You Know Is in a Nursing Home and Contracts MRSA
If someone you care about contracts an MRSA infection while residing in a nursing home and you suspect that he or she is being abused or neglected by staff, contact authorities to report the suspected abuse and open an investigation into the facility and its staff. Call an elder abuse reporting hotline or speak to a local branch of Adult Protective Services. You may also want to consult a lawyer about the legal options available to your loved one following his or her abuse at the hands of caregivers.