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Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Poor Hygiene?

poor hygiene

Unfortunately, many nursing homes are breeding grounds for infectious diseases due to a combination of understaffing and poor hygiene practices. Poor personal hygiene among both nursing home staff members and residents threatens the overall health and wellbeing of the elderly residents due to their weakened immune systems and chronic health problems. As a result, residents can suffer a wide range of infections and illnesses including urinary tract infections, MRSA infections, stomach viruses, COVID-19, and so much more within their nursing home facilities.

If your elderly loved one has suffered one or more nursing home infections or illnesses due to poor personal hygiene, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit. Poor hygiene practices can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect, which you can definitely sue for with the guidance of experienced attorneys at Curcio Law Offices. Call 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation with our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers today.

Poor Nursing Home Hygiene-Related Diseases

Poor hygiene in nursing homes can naturally breed bacteria which can then infect other nursing home residents. Many residents are forced to live in soiled diapers, dirty clothes, and generally dirty rooms. Additionally, some residents may even have to eat contaminated food, depending on how neglectful the nursing home is. Overall poor resident care like this can lead to a variety of illnesses and infections. Below, we discuss the most common infections that circulate nursing homes.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection caused by various fungi. If the feet are not cleaned often, and the slippers and socks are not changed frequently, your senior is susceptible to athlete’s foot.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Poor hygiene is the leading cause of gastrointestinal issues in nursing homes. Gastroenteritis is very common in nursing homes and can spread fast without detection. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Those living in nursing homes have a higher risk of contracting gastroenteritis due to weaker immune systems, poor hygiene, and antibiotic usage.

poor hygiene in nursing homes

Hot Tub Rash

Hot tub rash is a skin infection caused by a type of bacteria called pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacteria grow in warm, wet areas and are commonly found in dirty pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, and showers. Symptoms of hot tub rash look similar to acne and can be itchy. If bathing areas, pools, and hot tubs are not kept clean, your senior is at risk for developing a hot tub rash.


Like schools, nursing homes can be a breeding ground for lice. If nursing home staff do not practice cleanliness, lice can spread from senior to senior quickly due to the close quarters. The nursing facility staff should wash sheets and clothes routinely and bathe residents regularly.

MRSA Infections

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a skin infection that can spread quickly and lead to major health complications among the elderly population. Due to the bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics, it is referred to as the “Superbug.” Not only is it resistant to antibiotics, but according to the CDC, 2 out of 100 people carry the MRSA bacteria. Often, carriers do not show symptoms and can spread the bacteria without knowledge. This is especially dangerous in nursing facilities since the elderly already have weakened immune systems. If untreated, MRSA infections can lead to pneumonia, blood infections, sepsis, and even death.


Ringworm is a circular rash caused by a fungus and can appear on the skin, hair, and nails. If found on the foot, it is considered athlete’s foot. Ringworm can quickly spread through dirty sheets, towels, showers, and bathtubs.


Scabies-causing mites can spread quickly through a nursing home if proper hygiene is not observed. These mites burrow under the top layer of skin and lay eggs. Seniors that have contracted scabies will experience itching and have rashes and blisters.

Tooth Decay

If your family member cannot brush their teeth, they might be at risk for tooth decay. Poor oral health can cause damage to the tooth’s enamel and cause decay. Often, nursing homes are understaffed, so nurses cannot monitor activities such as brushing teeth. Signs to look out for are bad breath, loss of teeth, infections, bleeding gums, and chronic mouth pain.

nursing home bathing regulations

How Personal Hygiene Can Help Prevent Infections in Nursing Home Residents

Not only can maintaining proper hygiene make residents more comfortable, but it can limit the spread of infections and other diseases. The nursing facility should provide clean hair brushes, nail clippers, and other personal hygiene products to the residents. If they cannot care for themselves, staff members should regularly bathe residents and brush their teeth daily. In addition to helping residents practice good hygiene, staff should ensure their rooms are clean and sheets and clothing are changed and washed regularly. The nursing facility staff should also maintain good personal hygiene, wash their hands frequently, and change gloves and gowns between patients.

How Poor Personal Hygiene and Unsanitary Nursing Homes Can Endanger Residents

Unfortunately, even the most minor of infections can be life-threatening for the elderly. Extreme cases of poor sanitation in nursing homes can lead to sepsis and even death due to weakened immune systems.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Poor Hygiene?

Yes, you can definitely sue a nursing home for poor hygiene practices, especially if your elderly loved one has developed one or more health conditions related to poor personal care.

The Illinois Nursing Care Act outlines the mandatory requirements that all nursing homes should follow. It states that each nursing home should provide adequate medical care that avoids any harm or illness to the patient (210 ICLS 45/1-117). The NHCA also states that each facility should maintain proper sewage disposal, food handling, and general hygiene to establish the health and comfort of residents (210 ILCS 45/3-302). If you believe that the nursing facility or staff is not adhering to the Illinois Nursing Care Act, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit.

Damages for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Poor hygiene among nursing home residents is definitely a form of nursing home neglect. If your elderly loved one has suffered serious health issues from unsanitary conditions in their facility, you could file a civil lawsuit and recover the following types of damages:

cleaning in nursing homes

Call Chicago Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys at Curcio Law Offices Today

If your elderly loved one has contracted a serious disease due to poor hygiene practices in their nursing facility, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit in order to recover financial compensation. With over 50 years of experience, our legal team will make sure that your family member receives the care that they deserve. Call Curcio Law Offices today at 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation.

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