Nursing home infection rates have increased across the board, hepatitis has surged 50%, Columbia researchers find

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Nursing home infection rates have increased across the board, hepatitis has surged 50%, Columbia res
Nursing home infection rates have increased across the board, hepatitis has surged 50%, Columbia res

The rate of nursing home infections increased during a recent five-year period, with especially dramatic surges in multi-drug resistant organisms and viral hepatitis, according to recently published findings from Columbia University School of Nursing and the RAND Corporation.

The prevalence of viral hepatitis in nursing homes increased 48% between 2006 and 2010, the investigators determined. MDRO prevalence increased by 18% and pneumonia by 11%. The rates of urinary tract infections, septicemia and wound infections also rose.

“Infections are a leading cause of deaths and complications for nursing home residents, and with the exception of tuberculosis we found a significant increase in infection rates across the board,” said lead study author Carolyn Herzig, MS, project director of the Prevention of Nosocomial Infections & Cost Effectiveness in Nursing Homes study at Columbia School of Nursing in New York City.

Further research is needed to determine the cause of this troubling trend, the authors said. They emphasized that potential residents and their families should look for facilities with strong infection control practices, including protocols to limit catheterization, easy access to hand sanitizers and isolation rooms for infected residents.

The results came from an analysis of data that nursing homes self-reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the study was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research. Herzing presented the findings at IDWeek 2014, Columbia announced Wednesday. The conference is currently taking place in Philadelphia.

Infection control has emerged as a top priority both for providers and the government. The White House recently launched a nationwide effort to reign in MDROs related to antibiotic prescribing practices.