Study blames hospital stays for high LTC infection rates

Share this content:

It is well known that going to the hospital can be risky business for the long-term care resident with increased likelihood of illness and infection.

Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society affirms that the presence of Clostridium difficile bacteria in nursing homes is due largely to residents' hospital stays.
The study, which took place at the 220-bed Johns Hopkins Bayview Care Center in Baltimore, found that residents who were admitted to the center's subacute and rehabilitation units from the hospital had higher rates of C. diff-associated diarrhea than those who lived in the facility for longer periods of time.
A total of 119 nosocomially (or long-term care) acquired C. diff cases occurred between July 2001 and December 2003. Residents in the subacute unit had the highest incidence with 89 infections, followed by those in the rehabilitation (21) and traditional nursing units (9).
Among those cases reported within 72 hours of a resident's admission, the most were located in the subacute and rehabilitation units.
The study noted that the units with the highest incidence and prevalence rates had residents with more serious medical morbidities than other units. These residents were more likely to use antibiotics, a well-established risk for C. diff-related diarrhea.
"Given the difficulty in eliminating C. difficile from the gut and patient care areas, as well as the significant health consequences for the symptomatic patient, primary preventions should be the goal for nursing home staff dealing with C. difficile," study authors said.
But new prevention methods are needed, they added. Current tools such as isolating residents have limited effectiveness.