When an elderly loved one is a resident at a nursing home, they are quite vulnerable and often very frail. In some cases, their ability to speak is compromised from a stroke or other illness. Nonverbal patients are especially at risk for neglect from medical personnel.
For instance, an untreated urinary tract infection can wreak havoc on a senior citizen’s mind, as well as on their body.
Why elderly people suffer so many UTIs
Older folks’ bodies undergo many changes that leave them at enhanced risk of developing infections in their bladders. Men often deal with enlarged prostates that prevent their bladders from fully emptying. In women, menopausal changes to the urethral tissue make their urinary systems more permeable to bacteria.
How UTI’s evade being diagnosed
The confusion and cognitive and behavioral changes that are symptoms of an unchecked UTI are caused by bacterial buildup in the urine. These bacteria then invade the bloodstream and eventually penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
The cognitive and behavioral changes that result from a nursing home patient’s misdiagnosed or undiagnosed UTI can easily be interpreted as signs of dementia and delirium.
Why that is so egregiously negligent
When that unfortunate situation occurs, the doctor fails a patient twice. First, by failing to correctly diagnose and treat the UTI and then by misdiagnosing them with dementia. Sometimes, these patients wind up on strong antipsychotic medications rather than the lifesaving antibiotics their conditions require.
Was your loved one misdiagnosed?
An untreated UTI can cause irreversible damage or death and exacerbate existing mental and physical illnesses. If you know or suspect that your loved one was misdiagnosed, be their strong advocate in seeking civil justice.