A recent study found that nursing homes may overprescribe antibiotics to residents, giving powerful medications to patients even when they aren’t necessary. Excessive antibiotic use can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, which can cause serious illness or even death. As many experienced Kentucky nursing home injury attorneys have seen, the threat of infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is always present in care facilities, like nursing homes.
The study, performed by researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, found that 40 percent of nursing home residents received antibiotics for a suspected urinary tract infection even when no infection had been confirmed. Of the patients who received inappropriate treatment with antibiotics, one in every seven later suffered a gastrointestinal infection, battling a bug that can cause cramps, diarrhea, and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
The gastrointestinal bacteria is much more difficult to treat. Since the rate of infection was lower in patients who received only proper antibiotic treatment, researchers are concerned that improper antibiotic use may actually make nursing home residents sicker in the long term. Although many nursing homes overprescribe antibiotics due to concerns about patient health, the study indicates that not prescribing antibiotics except when they are necessary may be a better way to ensure patients stay healthy.
In most cases, antibiotic treatment of urinary tract infections is considered appropriate when a patient meets three of the five criteria for these infections, such as a fever or pain when urinating. However, some physicians believe criteria should be re-evaluated for elderly patients, who may present different symptoms than younger patients.