The lack of infection control awareness in long-term care facilities has resulted in an infection rate of 5 percent to 10 percent, or an average of 3.5 times per nursing home resident, with urinary tract infection being the most common infection in the facilities, according to Infection Control Society of Taiwan chairman Lee Chun-ming (李聰明).
Government data from last year showed that people aged 65 or older make up 11.26 percent of the total population.
Accompanying this aging population is the end of traditional large families that live together, and the two social phenomena have engendered the need for more long-term care and better welfare policies. The prevention and control of the transmission of multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria in long-term care facilities should therefore be one of the nation’s top priorities, Lee said.
Hospital and nursing home residents use a variety of medication for physiological impairments, functional disabilities and chronic diseases, and because they frequently move between facilities and hospitals, the chance of spreading and getting infected with communicable diseases is increasing, Lee said.
He added that what will also increase is the length of their hospital stay, medical costs and death rates.
Lee’s research team found that every long-term care facility resident is infected on average 3.5 times during the course of their stay, with in-facility urinary tract infection accounting for 47 percent of the total infections and respiratory tract infection for 32 percent.
To control or eradicate drug-resistant bacteria, Lee said, necessary steps include the introduction of catheter-associated urinary tract infection care, antibiotic management and hospital epidemiology.
He added that providing accreditation and training programs for long-term care providers to become infection control practitioners is also important.
As a large percentage of antibiotic use is unnecessary — 20 to 50 percent of antibiotics taken by humans and 40 to 80 percent by animals — Lee said all relevant authorities, including the Council of Agriculture, should take on more responsibility in the fight against infection and drug reisistant bacteria, along with medical and long-term care facilities, to face the challenge.