Elderly patients who need assistance with daily tasks and activities rely heavily on the quality of care of the healthcare facilities they reside in and the staff members who care for them. Because of this, it is crucial for long-term healthcare facilities such as assisted living facilities, skilled nursing homes and intermediate care facilities to ensure all of their patients are receiving the appropriate level of care – especially when it comes to prescribing medications.

In one study done by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it was found that 1 out of 5 residents at the nursing homes used in the study had been prescribed antibiotics within the 30 day period. The study also found that urinary tract infections (UTIs) were the most common antibiotic-treated infections, accounting for 40 percent of cases. One of the most concerning findings of the study, however, was the discovery of a correlation between antibiotic treatment for UTIs and the resulting development of confusion, fatigue, and restlessness among patients.

Long-term healthcare facilities are already vulnerable to the risk of litigation resulting from patient accidents such as slip and fall accidents and elopement. Causing additional confusion and fatigue among patients could potentially result in an increase in these types of liabilities, not to mention further allegations such as abuse, neglect or improper medication administration against the facility.

Antibiotic overuse in long-term healthcare facilities occurs for a variety of reasons. Often, doctors on staff may prescribe antibiotics to help relieve a patient’s symptoms quickly, or to proactively prevent an even worse infection. Additionally, some patients may suffer from conditions that make it difficult for them to explain their symptoms, leading physicians to have to use their best judgment to find a proper treatment. In other cases, healthcare facilities may use telecommunication to have patients treated by doctors, or worse, staff members may simply use a blanket treatment for patients without performing a physical examination. This may be happening more often than facilities realize, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that up to 75 percent of antibiotics prescribed in nursing homes are prescribed incorrectly.

Many of these liabilities can be addressed through specific healthcare facility insurance programs as well as the adoption of antibiotic stewardship guidelines. Because antibiotics do have benefits for reducing the severity of infections in patients, it would not be wise for healthcare facilities to completely stop using them. However, antibiotic stewardship guidelines, such as The Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship for Nursing Homes set forth by the CDC, can help long-term healthcare facilities govern their antibiotic use and ensure their patients receive proper dosages of the correct antibiotics, and only in cases where they are absolutely necessary.

 

About Highland Risk Services

At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.