Infection Prevention and Long-Term Care Facilities
Infection prevention and control is an ongoing problem for long-term care facilities in the US. However, the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services have finished implementing a three-phase 'final plan' aiming to improve infection rates at these facilities.
- An estimated 1.6-3.8 million infections occur in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in the US annually.
- There are around 380,000 deaths from infections at LTCFs per year.
- As the nursing home population is expected to increase to 5.3 million (from 3 million currently), this makes infection prevention even more important.
- The most common infections in LTCFs are respiratory tract infection, gastrointestinal infection, urinary tract infection, and skin and soft tissue infections, which make up 94% of all LTCF infections.
- Another study offers these results: 3-7 infections per 1,000 resident days, 0.3-4.7 cases per 1,000 resident days for lower respiratory tract infections, 0.9-2.3 cases per 1,000 resident days for urinary tract infections, 0.1-2.1 cases per 1,000 resident dates for soft tissue/skin infections and 0.04-0.71 deaths per 1,000 resident dates.
- Up to 40% of CMS-certified nursing homes receive citations for their inadequate infection control processes.
- Overuse of antibiotics is also a key issue, with antibiotics comprising 40% of all medications used in LTCFs. Further, their use is not being properly documented.
- The CMS's Final Rule for combating infection in LTCFs only finished coming into play in March 2019. Therefore, no results on its success are available yet.
- The changes in policy do not have any defined, official targets for improving infections in LTCFs. However, the program as a whole is designed to improve the quality and safety of LTCFs.
- Failure to comply will result in regulatory citations for the offending facility. Those who have received citations are more likely to result in more meetings about the issue, implying citations help improve quality.
- Therefore, as more Americans age into LTCFs, a slow improvement in infection rates will improve their safety and quality of life at these facilities.