It’s always painful to lose a loved one, no matter the circumstances. Patients in nursing homes are vulnerable to complications from existing health conditions or can die of natural causes. Unfortunately, there’s also a risk of death due to nursing home abuse or neglect. But one of the most common causes of death in nursing homes might surprise you.

The last few years have seen a definite shift in the leading causes of nursing home deaths. Read on to learn more about what is happening in nursing homes across the state.


The arrival of COVID-19 devastated nursing homes across the country, especially in California. It’s estimated that around 1 in 8 California residents who died of COVID-19 were patients in a nursing home. You might expect that facilities with the lowest rankings had the most deaths, but well-ranked nursing homes were severely affected too.

Unfortunately, the deadly spread of COVID-19 highlights the lack of general infection protocols at nursing homes throughout California. Staff members lack the necessary sick days to avoid bringing illnesses to work, and facilities don’t invest in personal protective equipment or proper training in infection protocols. Not to mention their ability to isolate contagious patients is limited.

Many nursing homes have refused to take responsibility and claim the situation with COVID-19 was beyond their control. However, outbreaks are still occurring, and nursing homes still have COVID-related deaths in nursing homes in California.


Pneumonia remains one of the most common nursing home deaths. Respiratory-tract infections are common because residents are more sedentary, especially those bedridden or on feeding tubes.

Pneumonia spreads through nursing homes in the same manner as COVID-19 or the flu. When a staff member or visitor is sick, they interact with immunocompromised residents. The spread of pneumonia arises from many of the same nursing home issues and lack of infection protocols that allowed COVID-19 to spread so rampantly.

Other Infections

Infections can be deadly for many people, especially immunocompromised patients in nursing homes. Even a simple condition such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) can turn fatal. When left untreated, a UTI can spread to the kidneys and cause damage or disease.

Another risk is sepsis, which is life-threatening. When an infection gets into the bloodstream, it can spread throughout the body, leading to septic shock and death. UTIs are easy to treat when caught early. There’s no reason for infections like this to be a common cause of death in nursing homes.

Bedsores are another potentially fatal type of infection that can lead to death when untreated. Nursing home staff should move bedridden patients regularly to make sure they don’t develop pressure sores. These very painful sores become deeper over time, rotting the tissue and exposing muscle and bone.

Slips And Falls

Slip and falls and trip and falls land hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital every year. Older people have a higher risk of severe injuries after a fall. Patients at risk for falling in nursing homes should have a special notation and be monitored to guarantee they don’t try to leave the bed unassisted.

Unfortunately, nursing home neglect means some patients end up trying to get out of or into bed unassisted because no one is helping them. Serious injuries such as a hip fracture can lead to complications like stroke and death.

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is an ongoing problem in homes across the country, not just California. It is a deliberate violation of standards of care and patients’ rights. Staff members who neglect or intentionally abuse patients need to be held accountable, especially if they cause a resident’s death. Abuse and neglect can be at the root of problems that lead patients to get infections, illnesses, or other injuries that lead to death.

Contact A Lawyer Today

If you have questions about common deaths in nursing homes caused by nursing home negligence or intentional acts, contact the skilled legal team at Silva Injury Law. When you hire us to represent your family, you benefit from attorney Michael Joe Silva’s prosecutorial experience. He previously worked as a Deputy District Attorney for Merced County. We know what’s necessary to hold these facilities accountable for patients’ deaths and how best to build a strong case.

Losing a loved one is tragic. It’s even more devastating when a family member’s death is unexpected and preventable. Let us help you hold these negligent facilities accountable for their actions and minimize the risk that another family has to go through the devastation you’re experiencing. Contact us today.

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At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.