Nursing homes provide an invaluable service both to many elderly individuals who need long-term care and to their families. Unfortunately, because of staffing shortages and other issues, residents in nursing homes do not always receive the care they need and deserve. A lack of adequate care often stems from a misdiagnosis of a medical condition.

The urinary tract includes the bladder, kidneys, urethra and ureters. While anyone can develop a urinary tract infection, UTIs are more common in nursing home residents with incontinence, dementia or mobility difficulties. After all, these elderly individuals are often unable to prevent bacteria from entering their urinary tracts.

UTI symptoms

While UTIs are often treatable with antibiotics, they can also cause serious harm to elderly nursing home residents. Consequently, it is critical for nursing home professionals to monitor residents for signs of infection. If a resident has any of the following symptoms, he or she may have a UTI:

  • Cloudy, dark, bloody or foul-smelling urine
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Fever, sweats or chills

Because of age and poor health, nursing home residents may be more susceptible to developing UTIs. Diabetes, kidney stones, catheter usage, enlarged prostates and surgical scars may also increase UTI risk.

UTI misdiagnoses

Even if a nursing home resident has an increased risk of developing a UTI, nurses at the facility should not rush to judgment. Regrettably, though, for elderly individuals, UTI misdiagnosis is alarmingly common.

A UTI misdiagnosis may injure a nursing home resident in a couple ways. First, he or she may take antibiotics needlessly, potentially causing antibiotic resistance that may make treating future infections more difficult. Misdiagnosis of a UTI also may dissuade nursing home staff from finding the real problem.

Ultimately, an elderly nursing home resident may sustain additional harm or even die because of an improper diagnosis of a UTI.