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Nursing Home Staff Reports Understaffing as the Main Reason for Failed MRSA Infection Control

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection that is commonly contracted by residents of skilled nursing facilities. It is a type of bacteria that lives on the surface of the skin and does not become a problem until it enters the body, usually via open wounds, such as pressure sores, breathing tubes, and catheters. Once MRSA enters the body, it can become extremely serious because it is often related to other infections including blood infections such as sepsis.

Because MRSA infections are very serious and can even lead to death, it is important to ensure that your loved one’s nursing home is taking the proper precautions to prevent and control the spread of infection. A recent article published in the Journal of Hospital Infection titled “Infection control and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus decolonization: the perspective of nursing home staff” studied infection prevention techniques in nursing homes. The study, which focuses specifically on MRSA infection control, interviewed nursing home staff and revealed some of the most common factors preventing caregivers from adhering to infection control procedures.

One of the top recurring factors that nurses cited as a reason for failing to follow infection control guidelines was lack of time. When nurses felt that they were under too much pressure, infection prevention and control were among the first caretaking practices to suffer. One nurse reportedly said that “Anything to do with infection control is more time consuming…you’re always working short staffed…that’s where bad practice comes in.” Usually, when nurses feel pressed for time, it is because the nursing home is understaffed. As this study has confirmed, nursing homes are unable to effectively prevent and control the spread of infection if they are inadequately staffed. Avoid putting your loved on at risk for contracting dangerous infections by ensuring that his or her nursing home is fully staffed.

Additionally, it is also important to ensure that the nursing staff is one dedicated to providing a high standard of care to your loved one. Many nurses reported that even if they adhered to infection prevention guidelines, their efforts were often nullified by other staff members who chose to forgo these infection control procedures. Under these circumstances, the nurses felt that inactive management was responsible for failing to enforce infection control guidelines among their colleagues. It was also found that employees who did not provide direct care to patients were most likely to forgo infection control procedures because they did not feel personally connected with patients. However, the nursing home is responsible for ensuring a cohesive staff that adheres to all rules and regulations regardless of whether or not they provide direct care to patients.

Despite nurses’ pleas to administrators and directors of nursing to enforce or improve infection control regulations, the study revealed that most skilled nursing facilities waited until after massive outbreaks of infection to implement any guidelines at all. It is completely unacceptable and egregious that some nursing homes wait until after many of their residents have suffered infections before taking steps to improve their infection control guidelines. Infection control must be precautionary, not something that happens only after the fact.

If you feel that your loved one’s nursing home is being careless in its implementation and enforcement of infection control guidelines as a result of inadequate of under-trained staff, please contact us today to see how we can help obtain your loved one’s rights. We serve the greater Los Angeles area, including Hawthorne, La Mirada, and Huntington Park.