People in long-term care facilities in New York and around the country can be at particular risk of harm due to medication errors and the improper prescription of antibiotics. In particular, when antibiotics are used improperly to treat urinary tract infections, patients can be put at elevated risk of harm, especially due to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. These types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a major threat not only inside long-term care facilities but to overall public health.
Public health experts warn that the effectiveness of antibiotics is at risk due to overprescription and misuse. When antibiotics are used when no bacteria are present, the risk of resistance to the treatments grows. According to statistics, up to 75 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions in long-term care facilities are incorrect and should not have been issued. The misdiagnosis of urinary tract infections, in particular, plays a significant role in the overuse of these drugs in these environments.
In Pennsylvania, over 13,000 urinary tract infections were diagnosed in long-term care facilities between 2014 and 2016. However, when prescribing practices were further investigated, analysts found that the prescriptions often deviated from national best practices for using antibiotics. In particular, broad-spectrum antibiotics that target a wide range of microbes are being overused, they found. Even after blood tests could narrow down the type of bacteria at fault, prescriptions were rarely changed. By using these strong antibiotics where they are not necessary, microbes can develop a tolerance and evolve resistance to the treatments.
Patients in long-term care facilities may be in a particularly vulnerable condition. Prescription errors could cause serious harm. When people in these facilities face negative health consequences as a result, a medical malpractice attorney can determine what steps should be taken to seek compensation.