A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system. Usually they occur in the bladder and urethra, but they can also infect the kidneys and ureters. Urinary tract infections are often called UTIs (pronounced “you-tee-eyes”).
A recent Columbia University study showed that infection rates are on the rise in nursing homes. UTIs can cause severe physical, emotional, and cognitive problems in residents, and can even be life-threatening.
Often, UTIs can be prevented with proper hygiene and personal care. For example, if a resident is incontinent, nursing home staff should change adult diapers frequently and make sure the resident is clean and dry. Proper catheter care is also crucial to preventing UTIs.
If a resident does get a UTI, early detection and proper treatment are crucial. Especially if a resident has a memory or communication problem, they may be unable to report their symptoms. In these cases, it is up to the resident’s caregivers to be vigilant for signs of infection.
In the most severe cases, unrecognized, untreated UTIs can lead to septic shock and even death. UTIs can also cause dementia-like symptoms, severe psychiatric symptoms, and other major problems in residents.
UTIs are treated with antibiotics, given orally or intravenously.
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“Healthcare-Associated Infections: HAI Data and Statistics.” October 25, 2016. United States Centers for Disease Control.United States Department of Health and Human Services. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/hai/surveillance/index.html
“Nursing home infection rates on the rise, study finds: Columbia Nursing researcher offers tips for infection prevention.” October 8, 2014. Columbia University School of Nursing. Columbia University Medical Center. Available at http://nursing.columbia.edu/nursing-home-infection-rates-rise-study-finds
“Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections.” November 16, 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.United States Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hai/prevent/prevention.html