Nursing Home Infections Attorney
In nursing homes, this risk can increase due to large numbers of elderly people, with underlying conditions like weakened immune systems and chronic illnesses, occupying common spaces. When you combine those factors with cognitive and mobility issues that often result in poor hygiene, you have the perfect breeding ground for infections. And, if staff aren’t properly trained, it’s very likely that infections will spread rapidly. If a patient is harmed in a nursing home due to infections, an attorney can help hold the home accountable.
There are several infections that are common among elderly people in nursing homes. Of course, this is not to say that these infections occur ONLY in nursing homes, or only among the elderly. The issue is that the elderly are more vulnerable in general when they acquire an infection – elderly people can become very ill, or even die, from an infection that might simply leave a younger person feeling miserable for a few days. When death in a nursing home is due to infections, an attorney can help the family by preparing a wrongful death lawsuit.
These are the most prevalent infections among elderly nursing home residents:
Gastroenteritis is a painful condition of the stomach and intestines. It is usually bacterial or viral in origin, and leads to inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping that can range in intensity from mild to disabling.
Gastroenteritis is frequently spread by means of food contamination (including shigella, campylobacter and salmonella bacteria), but in nursing homes, it is most commonly the result of the Noro virus, which is extremely contagious. Cleanliness is vital, so it’s extremely important that staff members practice proper hygiene and that surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Patients should be carefully monitored for dehydration.
Influenza (more commonly referred to simply as “flu”) is most common in the late fall to early spring (between October and March), and every season it causes trouble in nursing homes. Complications from flu can lead to pneumonia or bronchitis.
The best protection against influenza is vaccination. Once it’s entrenched in a facility, it can spread quickly by means of coughing and sneezing. As with gastroenteritis, cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Staff members should practice rigorous personal hygiene, and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Complications from influenza can be fatal in the elderly, so monitoring is vital.
Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms
These are organisms that are highly resistant to antibiotics. Examples include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE). VRE causes intestinal disruption, and MRSA can cause urinary, skin, wound and respiratory infections. Either of these organisms can be transferred easily if staff fail to observe proper personal hygiene and strive for a clean work environment.
When Does the Spread of Infection Constitute Negligence?
Negligence can be a factor in nursing home infections, and an attorney can help to determine when this is the case. Obviously, older people are more prone to infections than people who are young and healthy. When a frail, elderly person contracts an infection, the potential for serious harm, or even death, is also more likely than it would be for someone who is young and strong. This is why it’s so important that nursing home staff take every measure possible to prevent infections, and if they cannot be prevented, then to manage and contain them.
If you or someone you care about has been harmed because staff in a nursing home or other long-term care facility did not take reasonable, adequate measures to prevent infections, you may have the basis for a lawsuit for negligence. A nursing home infections attorney can assist you in determining if you have a cause of action, and work on your behalf to gather the evidence needed to proceed.