Bedbugs in Nursing Homes

If you or a loved one has suffered from a bedbug infestation in a nursing home, you know the complications they cause, including bites, scarring, overall discomfort, and an increased risk of skin infection. Neglect in nursing homes increases the risk of bedbug infestations and bedbug-related injuries. Nursing Home Abuse offers information about risks, rights, and what to do if a nursing home suffers a bedbug infestation that causes problems for you.

bed sheets

Bedbugs and their bites prove uncomfortable for anyone. However, bedbug bites pose increased risks for elderly nursing home residents and can have potential long-term health impacts. In addition, dealing with bedbugs is more difficult for seniors, who may have limited mobility or control over their environments. Most cannot simply call someone to address the problem.

Nursing homes have a legal duty to care for their residents, including preventing and eliminating bedbugs. However, many nursing homes breach that duty, allowing infestations that harm residents with bites and resulting infections. When that happens, victims can pursue compensation. Learn more about bedbugs in nursing homes and how Nursing Homes Abuse can help if you or a loved one has been an infestation victim.

How Common Are Bedbugs in Nursing Homes?

Almost 60 percent of nursing homes report bedbugs annually. This is not terribly surprising since one in five families deals with bedbugs yearly. Bedbugs show up in nursing homes for several reasons, including the following:

  • New residents who struggled with self-care before arriving – Elderly individuals suffering from physical or cognitive decline have more trouble dealing with challenges such as bedbugs in their homes, bringing them into the nursing home when they arrive.
  • High numbers of people to feed on – Nursing homes serve as buffets for bedbugs, which feed on human blood.
  • Inadequate cleanliness or bedbug response standards among nursing home staff – How the staff deals with bedbugs makes a big difference in the severity of the infestation and how many residents the bedbugs can impact.

While bedbugs frequently appear in nursing homes, caregivers and staff must implement protocols to prevent infestations and deal with them quickly to decrease their spread.

Signs of Bed Bugs in Nursing Homes

Spotting bedbugs in nursing homes involves conducting a search similar to finding them around the house. Common signs include the following:

  • Itchy, reddish bites that look like rashes, hives, or regular insect bites
  • Small blood stains from bedbug bites
  • Reddish stains on the sheets or mattress from crushed bugs
  • Dark spots appearing on sheets

You may also notice bedbugs hiding in tight, dark areas around the furniture, around the mattress tag, in cracks on the bed frame, or in furniture seams. If you suspect a bedbug infestation, finding live bedbugs can help get the nursing home to act.

Why Bed Bugs are Dangerous for Elderly Residents

The Centers for Disease Control notes that bedbugs do not carry any known disease. However, they do cause health complications, especially for elderly patients. Not only can they cause itchy bites that feel very uncomfortable, bedbugs often result in the following:

  • Increased risk of skin infection: This can include cellulitis, which leads to swollen, inflamed, and itchy skin, and impetigo, a skin infection that causes blisters and discomfort.
  • Allergic reactions to their bites: These reactions cause swelling and discomfort around the bite site.
  • Anxiety or insomnia: Around 29 percent of people deal with insomnia during bedbug infestations, and 22 percent report heightened anxiety.
  • Anemia and blood loss due to extended exposure: Anemia causes tiredness, weakness, irregular heartbeat, and dizziness.
  • Lymphatic infections: A sore appears on the bedbug bite, followed by a red streak going to the nearest lymph gland. These streaks can also blister.

Patients who live with bedbugs for a long time show more symptoms of mental disturbance and lack of care than residents who live in nursing homes that deal with bedbugs quickly.

Bedbugs can spread quickly through nursing homes because the residents take medications that prevent them from feeling the bites or their impact. This can lead to a wider spread before the nursing staff notices the problem.

The Link Between Bed Bugs and Nursing Home Neglect

Neglect increases the risk of many types of nursing home injuries, and bedbug infestations are no different. Bedbugs infestations often materialize and worsen as a result of nursing home neglect. Neglect also raises the odds the patient will not receive adequate care for those injuries, leading to infections and other health problems.

Inadequate Staffing

According to the American Health Care Organization, 87 percent of nursing homes experience moderate to severe staffing shortages. When nursing homes do not have adequate staff, they struggle to meet patient needs. Staff members fail to spot signs of bedbug bites or infestations because they do not have time to carefully monitor every patient.

High Turnover

Nursing homes experienced a median 94 percent turnover rate before the COVID-19 pandemic. Turnover increased even more since the pandemic. A high turnover rate means new staff members do not get to know their patients well, which means they may fail to note changes in patient behavior. New staff members also may not know what precautions to take to avoid bedbug spread in the facility, leading to increased spread.

Poor Training

Staff members who do not receive adequate training may not know how to spot signs of bedbug bites or how to treat them to prevent infections. High turnover and inadequate staffing contribute to poor employee training.

Poor Cleanliness Standards

High cleanliness standards in nursing homes lead to caregivers spotting bedbugs and other problems sooner. Nursing homes with lower cleanliness standards may change sheets less often. A routine with frequent vacuuming and scrubbing helps remove them from residential areas, decreasing the spread of infestations.

Are Bedbugs in Nursing Homes Preventable?

Nursing homes may not prevent every bedbug that finds its way in, especially when new residents or visitors have hitchhikers. However, they can take steps to prevent the spread of the infestation, including:

  • Frequent vacuuming
  • Monitoring new residents for signs of bedbugs
  • Regularly cleaning linens and other materials in which bedbugs often live

They can also protect residents by treating infestations promptly and providing treatment for bites.

What To Do If Your Loved One Has Suffered Bedbug Bites in a Nursing Home

If your loved one has suffered bedbug bites in a nursing home, you need to act to protect them. You should take the following steps:

  • Take photos of the bites.
  • Notify the nursing home staff.
  • Conduct an inspection. Re-inspect your loved one’s room after the staff claims to have handled the bedbugs. Take photos of any evidence of bedbugs you find.
  • Keep an eye on your loved one for signs of infection.
  • Monitor your loved one for further bites.
  • Get medical care for your loved one if you notice any signs of infection.
  • Contact a lawyer to determine whether your loved one has the grounds to file a lawsuit.

Taking the right steps after noticing bedbugs can protect your loved one and their right to seek compensation.

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Bed Bug Infestation?

If a bedbug infestation results from negligence by the nursing home or its staff, the resident has the right to sue the nursing home for the damages. Damages can include compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills for skin conditions caused by the bedbug infestation
  • Psychological bills
  • Moving out of the nursing home if necessary due to resident neglect
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

At Nursing Home Abuse, we help residents who have suffered neglect in nursing homes, including the results of a bedbug infestation, understand their rights. Get legal help for nursing home neglect as soon as possible.


What Do Bedbug Bites Look Like?

Bed bug bites look different from one patient to the next, but their appearance can include the following:

  • Raised bumps that look like hives
  • Bug bites that resemble a mosquito or chigger bite
  • Small, itchy red spots
  • A line or zigzag pattern of welts

How Can I Treat Bedbug Bites?

Treatment for bedbug bites includes the following:

  • Washing the skin to help prevent skin infections
  • Using a corticosteroid cream
  • Prompt treatment for any skin infection that develops, including topical or oral antibiotics

How Long Do Bedbug Bites Last?

Bedbug bites typically heal after a week. Infections from the bites last much longer, especially in cases of improper treatment or neglect.

Fact Checked

Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.