Nursing homes are frequently criticized for a lack of cleanliness and the level of training in the personnel they hire. Cleanliness is a special problem for older people who are often unable to bathe themselves. Sometimes, because of dementia, older people neglect bathing. That’s where trained personnel are especially important: To monitor nursing home residents to make sure they don’t come down with diseases related to living closely with each other, such as mites.
What are Mites?
According to Healthline, mites are microscopic, parasitic arthropods that latch on to the skins of animals. “Arthropod” means a class of creatures that includes insects and spiders. One species of arthropod infests humans. The mites burrow into the skin where they live and lay eggs. Mite infestations spread under crowded conditions where there is close body contact, such as nursing homes. Mites itch abominably and cause a rash, leading to scabies, the stage at which the mites are commonly passed on to the next person.
Scabies Leads to Sepsis
A human’s skin is the most important barrier between the human and infection, including infection from bacteria that normally live on a human’s skin. When the mites drill into the human’s skin, they breach that barrier. Then, bacteria can move in, infecting the body. When the body is under severe attack from germs, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection. These chemicals can go out of balance, causing sepsis, a condition that can damage multiple organ systems and even cause death.
A Sad Example of Death from Mites
Mites causing scabies that results in sepsis and therefore death is not a made-up example. Unfortunately, a woman died in the Shepherd Hills Nursing Home in LaFayette, Georgia, in 2015, from sepsis ultimately caused by mites. Despite horrific signs of infection, the nursing home staff did not make sure she got the help she needed. A former Georgia Bureau of Investigation pathologist who performed the autopsy called this incident “one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever seen” and characterized the woman’s death as “homicide by neglect.”
Unfortunately, the nursing home is in the news again. Despite collecting more than $71 million from Medicaid over the past two years, Shepherd Hills has a long history of violations from state health inspectors.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home, be sure to visit often not just to offer your love and support but to inspect the facilities and ask questions of the staff. If you believe the level of care is deficient, be sure to contact a nursing home attorney to find out what your options are to make things better.