- diff is short for Clostridium difficile. It’s a highly invasive bacteria that forms spores, and causes diarrhea and other types of gastric discomfort. When C. Diff is at its most severe, it can be life-threatening, causing a condition known as toxic megacolon. In its worst manifestation, C. Diff kills on average approximately 14,000 US citizens every year, many of whom are occupants of nursing homes. Half of the infections occur in people under the age of 65, but a frightening 90% occur in people age 65 and above. In the past three years, cases of C. Diff have tripled.
Nursing home C. diff is indisputably linked to medical care at all levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control, no fewer than 94% of C. diff cases are connected directly to medical care. Seventy-five percent occur in people who were recently cared for in clinics, doctors’ offices, and nursing homes.
Consider this case of nursing home C. diff.
In 2014, Gerald Warmbier was admitted to the Heartland of Champaign Nursing Home in St. Louis. He was admitted in order to recover from a recent hospital stay, but once in the home, his health began to deteriorate. While in the home, his weight dropped by 30 pounds, and he developed C. diff. He developed thick, dark urine, stopped leaving his bed, and became essentially non-verbal. Finally, he died, and his wife filed a lawsuit against the nursing home.
The wrongful death complaint listed no fewer than 24 different ways in which the home’s lack of care contributed to his death, including failure to provide proper hydration and leaving him in a room with another patient that the home knew had C. diff. The lawsuit also alleges that Warmbier was deprived of necessary medications.
The nursing home vigorously denied the allegations, but a health department inspection supported a number of the claims, finding that many residents were dehydrated, and that the home failed to make sure that medications were properly administered.
This lawsuit, obviously, contains elements other than nursing home C. diff. In fact, the main violations appear to be failure on the part of the nursing home to monitor the patient’s fluid intake which resulted in his dehydration. The case is still before the courts, though and C. diff is still a factor. Mr. Warmbier’s widow is seeking non-specific damages, and she maintains that a large factor in her husband’s death was the failure of the nursing home to keep him away from a patient who was known to have a C. diff infection.
Mr. Warmbier’s widow, Judy, says that she “misses everything” about her life partner, especially their weekend trips to St. Louis.
Infections will inevitably happen in nursing homes. Good nursing homes take every possible measure to prevent them. Other times, in bad nursing homes, they’re caused by lack of proper sanitation and failure to isolate patients who have developed infections from patients who are otherwise healthy.
If you have lost someone you love due to a nursing home C. diff infection, or if you yourself have incurred medical difficulty, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Your best course of action is to contact an attorney who specializes in nursing home C. diff infection in order to discuss your options. Nursing homes that willingly allow C. diff and other illnesses to run rampant can be vulnerable to a cause of action for medical malpractice, and you may be entitled to monetary compensation.