Nursing Homes Can Be Breeding Grounds for Infections

If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, chances are they will be well taken care of. Unfortunately, however, some facilities experience outbreaks in infectious diseases. And while a nursing home cannot guarantee that one won’t occur, many outbreaks are preventable. Nursing homes are required to take reasonable precautions for their patients’ safety and health. That includes steps that can minimize the likelihood of a serious disease. When a nursing facility fails to take these steps, it’s time to call a Georgia nursing home neglect attorney.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1-3 million infections occur annually in nursing home facilities. As many as 380,000 patients die each year from infections. Pneumonia, urinary tract infections, staph infections, and diarrheal diseases are some of the most common ones. Nursing homes are perfect breeding grounds for diseases because of the following:

The population is older, frailer, and often sicker. Nursing home patients tend to suffer from more long-term and chronic diseases. They have weakened or compromised immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections. Sometimes residents bring diseases with them and spread them to other patients.

Residents do not respond as well to vaccinations. Although some facilities require, for example, flu vaccines of their patients, these do not always work. In some cases, residents are not even vaccinated at all, due to negligence or oversight.

Residents share common resources. These include common sources of food (meals), water, and recreational and living space. Activities are often done in large groups, including watching television and social events. With this many people sharing with one another, it’s easy for an outbreak to occur.

High concentration of residents in small rooms. A related problem is that the rooms in which nursing home residents live are small. And there are many of them sharing an overall small nursing home. This concentration of people will allow a disease to spread throughout the facility.

Outside visitors can bring diseases. There’s always the risk that contact with family members will expose a resident to a harmful pathogen. This is especially true during the flu season, but it can happen any time. Visitors who bring diseases likely don’t know they are harming others.

Some problems cannot be avoided. No one can help that an individual has a weakened immune system. And if a viral or bacterial infection is particularly strong, it can have significant consequences regardless. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the nursing home is free of responsibility.

Nursing homes are required to take reasonable steps to keep residents healthy and safe. With respect to infectious diseases, that means adopting some standard medical practices. These practices, if observed, will keep a nursing home relatively sterile and minimize the spread of infection if one occurs.

Among those practices are the following:

  • Minimal use of catheters, which can cause urinary tract infections
  • Requiring nursing home staff to regularly and properly wash their hands
  • Requiring the staff to use gloves, masks, and gowns
  • Screening residents before admitting them
  • Isolating, as appropriate, residents who are infected
  • Frequently changing diapers
  • Requiring visitors to observe hygiene practices

Facilities are required to have an Infection Control Plan and staff who are trained in it. Nursing homes whose staff are not properly trained may be acting negligently. Negligence also occurs where facilities are understaffed, and when existing staffers are overworked. This makes it more difficult to diligently observe required practices, easily leading to an outbreak in disease.

Turn to Us If a Loved One Has Suffered from Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home infections and disease outbreaks can cause serious medical issues. These result in steep medical bills, additional care costs, and pain and suffering. In some cases, they can cause the loss of life. When nursing home residents are made to suffer because of negligence, they deserve compensation. Hammers Law Firm is experienced with nursing home neglect cases, and we will demand justice for your loved one. Give us a call today to speak with our dedicated and compassionate team.