Complications Can Be Serious
As a result of UTI complications many residents can require hospitalization and can die from blood poisoning known as sepsis.
Bladder and Urinary Infection Information
According to the Mayo Clinic in an article concerning urinary infections, UTI complications, the most common urinary infection occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra. Urinary tract infections UTI are unfortunately common in nursing home and other elder care settings. UTIs can be very serious and if left untreated can result in sepsis leading to death. Infection of the bladder (cystitis) is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a species of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but you don’t have to be sexually active to develop it. All women are susceptible to cystitis because of their anatomy — specifically, the close proximity of the urethra to the anus and the short distance from the urethral opening to the bladder. Infection of the urethra (urethritis) can occur when the gastrointestinal bacteria make the short trip from the anus to the urethra. In addition, because of the female urethra’s proximity to the vagina, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as herpes simplex virus, gonorrhea and chlamydia, also are possible causes of urethritis. Often the use of a catheter without proper care can lead to a serious bladder or urinary infection. The infection can spread to the blood and cause the person to become septic. The Mayo Clinic defines sepsis as a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death. Anyone can develop sepsis, but it’s most common and most dangerous in elderly people or those with weakened immune systems. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.
Male and Female Urinary Systems from Mayo Clinic
Risk factors for Urinary Infection
Some people appear to be more likely than are others to develop urinary infections. Risk factors include:
• Being female. Half of all women will develop a urinary tract infection at some point during their lives, and many will experience more than one. A key reason is their anatomy. Women have a shorter urethra, which cuts down on the distance bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
• Aging. After menopause, urinary tract infections may become more common because tissues of the vagina, urethra and the base of the bladder become thinner and more fragile due to loss of estrogen.
• Kidney stones or any other urinary obstruction.
• Diabetes and other chronic illnesses that may impair the immune system.
• Prolonged use of tubes (catheters) in the bladder.
Recommendations for Prevention of Urinary Infection
These steps may reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:
• Drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Cranberry juice may have infection-fighting properties. However, don’t drink cranberry juice if you’re taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin. Possible interactions between cranberry juice and warfarin may lead to bleeding.
• Wipe from front to back. Doing so after urinating and after a bowel movement helps prevent bacteria in the anal region from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
• Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. Using deodorant sprays or other feminine products, such as douches and powders, in the genital area can irritate the urethra.
Federal Regulations Concerning Urinary Infection
42 CFR §483.25 (d) Urinary Incontinence. Based on the resident’s comprehensive assessment, the facility must ensure that—
(1) A resident who enters the facility without an indwelling catheter is not catheterized unless the resident’s clinical condition demonstrates that cathertization was necessary; and
(2) A resident who is incontinent of bladder receives appropriate treatment and services to prevent urinary tract infections and to restore as much normal bladder function as possible.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from bladder or urinary infection or other neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility that serves the elderly in Minnesota, Kenneth LaBore provides a free consultation and information regarding the obligations of the facility and your rights as a resident or concerned family member. To contact Attorney Kenneth L. LaBore, directly please send an email to KLaBore@mnnursinghomeneglect.com, or call Ken at 612-743-9048 or call him at his direct toll free number 1-888-452-6589. This website is not intended to provide legal advice as each situation is different and specific factual information must be obtained before an attorney is able to assess the legal questions relevant to your situation.