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UTIs are life-threatening in the elderly

One of the most common infections among those who are hospitalized for medical treatment is a urinary tract infection. Patients are especially vulnerable to UTIs when they require the use of a catheter during their stay. Catheters, like other invasive devices, have the potential for introducing bacteria into the body, particularly when medical professionals or facilities fail to follow protocol for hygiene and sterilization.

When the patient is elderly, the risk of contracting a UTI is even higher. If your loved one suffered from a UTI that went unchecked by a New Jersey hospital or nursing home staff, you likely have many questions, and you deserve answers.

Your loved one's delicate state of health

You trust the staff of the nursing facility to treat your loved one with care and attention. Since a UTI is not a rare event for aging patients, those on staff should have been alert for symptoms of infections as soon as your loved one returned from the hospital.

The elderly have many factors working against them when their doctors admit them to the hospital. Your loved one may have been dealing any of the following:

  • A compromised immune system, which prevents your loved one's body from fighting off an infection
  • A prolapsed bladder, a condition that causes bacteria to collect in the urinary tract
  • Other common medical conditions that make your loved one susceptible to infection, such as diabetes, poor mobility and certain medications
  • Difficulty communicating, which may have prevented your loved one from describing his or her symptoms to the medical staff

However, medical professionals who are trained to work with the elderly should have recognized the signs of infection even if your loved one was unable to verbalize the symptoms. Some of the signs your loved one may have experienced include the following:

  • Shaking, chills, sweats and other symptoms of fever
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Burning pain during urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • A strong odor to the urine
  • Pressure and pain low in the pelvic area

If your loved one was unable to care for him or herself and depended on nursing home staff, the symptoms of a UTI may have made him or her quite miserable. An attentive nursing staff would have noticed changes in your loved one's behavior indicating that something was wrong.

The infection can lead to permanent damage to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary system. An untreated UTI in someone with a compromised or weak immune system can quickly turn septic, which is life-threatening. If such an infection threatened the life of your loved one, you have every right to seek justice and to send a message to those caregivers whose neglect caused such suffering.

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