According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), up to 70% of nursing home residents are prescribed antibiotics during the course of any given year, ranging in cost between $38 million to $137 million per year. Recently, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) released the results of a study that linked the high usage of antibiotics in nursing homes to many health problems such as gastroenteritis, clostridium difficile, and resistance to superbugs, drug-resistant germs.
The study, which concentrated on a sample of 110,656 patients in 607 nursing homes in Ontario, Canada, found that the residents had a high percentage of antibiotic use. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics were penicillin and second-generation fluoroquinolones. Despite the fact that some elderly residents did not take the antibiotics, they were still at an increased risk of antibiotic-related harm.
As noted by the CDC, the over-prescription of antibiotics contributes to the development and sustainability of superbugs, one of the world’s leading health threats. Physicians are advised to only prescribe antibiotics if, based on evaluation, their patient has a bacterial infection. According to the JAMA study, it is estimated that 56% of inappropriately prescribed antibiotics are to treat suspected urinary tract infections, and up to one-third of these are for nursing home residents with asymptomatic bacteriuria, bacteria in the urinary tract. However, this bacteria is usually safe and does not require antibiotic treatment.
According to the CDC, nursing home residents are highly susceptible to to drug-resistant germs due to the possibility of the bacteria “colonizing,” residing without producing symptoms, on their skin.
If you or your loved one is in a nursing home and has been subjected to misuse or overuse of antibiotics, contact an experienced elder law attorney at the New York Elder Law Firm Hobson-Williams, P.C. at (718) 210-4744.