More than 80% of nursing homes in Texas were cited in the last three years by the federal government for not following proper protocol to prevent infections, raising concerns about the safety of such facilities amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
Government watchdogs cited 74% of the 57 nursing homes in Travis, Williamson, Hays and Bastrop counties for violations between 2017 and 2019, according to latest available federal data collected by the USA Today Network, of which the American-Statesman is a member. Nationally, the rate is 75%. The most common violations found at Central Texas nursing homes involved caregivers not properly washing or sanitizing their hands. Other violations at local facilities included not properly quarantining a patient who had diarrhea and allowing a catheter tube to drag across a dirty floor.
“Staff can be stretched very thinly and be assigned to care for 15, 20 or more residents on a shift. When that is the case, not properly performing a task — washing hands, or taking other precautions — may shave a few seconds of time for the staff person to move on to help the next resident,” said Patty Ducayet, the state’s long-term care ombudsman at the Texas Health and Human Services. In her role, Ducayet advocates for the voices of nursing home residents.