Take Our Survey, Get Answers

Nursing Home Infection Lawyer

Elderly residents in nursing homes may have compromised immune systems or other conditions that make them more susceptible to infections. This does not excuse a nursing home from exercising appropriate and even heightened standards of care to confirm that their residents are not unduly exposed to infectious diseases. Infections may strike an individual resident, or they may run through several residents in the same facility.

The Practical Impacts of Nursing Home Infections from History

Consider, for example, a salmonella outbreak that occurred in 2011 at the Red Tree Senior Living Complex. A 79-year old resident of that Complex and seven other residents exhibited symptoms of serious stomach distress. A family member was told only that the resident was experiencing a “24-hour bug.” He was not told about the other residents who had similar symptoms. He later discovered that all eight residents were suffering from a salmonella outbreak and that the Complex had several salmonella outbreaks in the previous 2-year period.  Examination of the facts showed that the Complex’s kitchen staff was understaffed and that they routinely left food out in unrefrigerated conditions.

Infections: A Leading Cause of Death and the Primary Cause of Hospitalization for Elderly Patients

In the annals of elder abuse law, the salmonella outbreak case is not an outlier. Statistics reveals that infections are the primary cause of hospitalizations of persons over 65 years of age, as well as being the cause of death of 30% of all persons over that age.  Elderly nursing home residents are on average three- to ten-times more susceptible to Pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and appendicitis problems. Moreover, a typical elderly nursing home resident presents unique challenges, namely:

  • Patients frequently present with multiple ailments and medical conditions, including dementia;
  • Elderly patient stays in long-term care facilities and hospitals may expose the already vulnerable elderly person to multiple drug-resistant pathogens;
  • In the elderly, natural defenses and immune systems are generally weak, if not immune-compromised from pre-existing medical conditions
  • Elderly patients are more often than not are currently taking multiple prescription medications, rendering them more susceptible to infections or decreasing the efficacy of other drugs that are intended to help them ward off infection.

Notwithstanding these challenges, nursing homes are obligated to provide a reasonable standard of care that is consistent with the trust relationship between the elderly residents and the care facility. A nursing home’s failure to meet that standard will result in negligence liability if the home’s residents suffer injuries as a consequence of the breach.

The Standard of Care Owed by Hospitals to Patients Regarding Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections

In addition to taking reasonable steps to prevent infections, this standard of care obligates nursing homes and their staffs to take extra care to watch for signs of infections and to treat them promptly when they arise. Ignoring or belittling symptoms, as appears to have happened in the Red Tree Complex case, will lead to substantial fines and liability for the nursing home.

On average, more than two million infections occur in nursing homes every year.  Some of those infections are minor and are easily treated with antibiotics and other medications. In an elderly population, however, an infection can lead to death, repeated and longer hospital stays, and substantially higher health care costs. As more antibiotics are used, infections are becoming more resistant to these drugs, thus further endangering the elderly residents of a nursing home.  Because nursing home residents in critical care facilities are often transferred between various units of those institutions to receive treatments, they are even more susceptible to falling prey to and spreading infections throughout those units.

Did the Nursing Home Do Enough to Stop or Mitigate the Spread of the Infection?

In light of a virulent infection in an at-risk patient environment, a nursing home’s first course of action will always be to end the infection before it begins. Attorneys who concentrate their practices in elder law issues will have a better ability to review and understand a nursing home’s efforts to eliminate infections and to ensure the safety of their residents. When those nursing homes fail in this task, the elder care attorney will file a lawsuit to highlight the facility’s failed efforts to comply with its reasonable standards of care. Please consult with an experienced elder care lawyer if you or your elderly family member have contracted an infection in a nursing home environment.  Patients may be entitled to receive compensation for medical and other costs incurred as part of additionally requiring treatment for the hospital-acquired infection.

 

 

References:

 

http://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3526889/

http://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/

http://www.cdc.gov/hai/

http://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/

http://health.gov/hcq/prevent-hai.asp

 

 

THIS WEBSITE IS A PAID LEGAL ADVERTISMENT. ATTORNEY JEFF MEYER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT OF THIS ADVERTISMENT.JEFF MEYER IS LICENSED IN TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA. CONSULT A DOCTOR ON ALL MEDICAL DECISIONS.WRITTEN INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST. ONCE YOU BECOME A CLIENT OF THE FIRM, INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR CLAIM MAY BE TRANSMITTED IN COMPLIANCE WITH HIPAA AND HOUSE BILL 300. THE MEYER LAW FIRM WILL MAINTAIN JOINT REPRESENTATION AND JOINT RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLIENTS AND CASES,BUT CASES AND CLIENTS WILL LIKELY BE REFERRED TO OTHER LAW FIRMS FOR PRINCIPAL HANDLING. LEGAL REPRESENTATION IS NOT OFFERED OR AVAILABLE IN TENNESSEE. BY USING THIS WEBSITE, YOU AGREE TO OUR PRIVACY POLICY AND TERMS OF USE. MAIN OFFICE; HOUSTON, TEXAS.