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Misuse of antibiotics rampant in long-term care facilities

Oct 2, 2017 | Medication Errors

The portion of the elderly population in New York that lives in long-term care facilities depends on caregivers to make effective medical decisions. A patient advocacy organization in a neighboring state has raised the alarm about the inappropriate use of antibiotics in nursing homes and the threat of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

The medical director for the organization said that antibiotics represent the most widely prescribed form of medication within long-term care facilities. Within these settings, antibiotics are used inappropriately in up to 75 percent of cases. Caregivers often choose them to treat urinary tract infections, which are very common among nursing home residents. Medical personnel, however, frequently misdiagnose infections of this nature. Out of 13,680 cases of UTI reported to the organization, medical auditors uncovered many improper uses of antibiotics and failures to observe medical standards for the treatment of UTI.

Problems identified included not altering treatment plans after receiving results from laboratory tests and using broad-spectrum antibiotics. The organization published a report containing advice to reduce the risk of these infections within the patient population, medication-prescribing guidelines and an evaluation tool to assist with the accurate diagnosis of UTI. The medical community views controlling the misuse of antibiotics as essential to halting the threat of infections that do not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Medication errors can lead to serious complications. A person who suffered physical harm because of a range of problems, such as a negligent physician or dangerous combination of prescriptions, could be a victim of medical malpractice. An attorney could consult with an independent medical expert to determine if the evidence might support a lawsuit.