NURSING HOMES AND INFECTIONS: A BAD COMBINATION

We recently represented two families whose loved ones contracted serious and deadly infections in an assisted living facility. The facility had an outbreak of Group A Strep – the same bacterium which causes strep throat. Unfortunately it can also cause death, especially in the elderly and infirm. In our cases, the Group A Strep turned into necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh eating bacteria) costing one client her leg and the other her life. During the lawsuit we discovered the facility took few precautions to prevent the spread of infections and once the infection was in the facility, did not know how to recognize or treat the sick residents.

Were our cases unusual? It doesn’t appear so. Approximately 20 residents and employees of a Madison, Wisconsin were recently diagnosed with a gastrointestinal illness caused by the norovirus, often referred to as the “cruise-ship virus.” The illness causes a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Noroviruses are not affected by treatment with antibiotics, and cannot grow outside of a person’s body. The facility administrator stated “we’re aggressively disinfecting everything and reinforcing with staff the need for good hand washing techniques.” Too late for many of the residents. Read the full story here.

Want more evidence that nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not paying attention to this deadly problem? More than 30% of the residents of the Courts of Holt nursing home in Lansing, Michigan became sick with the norovirus, causing the facility to prohibit visitors on Christmas day! Read the newspaper report here.

Make sure the nurses and attendants in your facility wash their hands before caring for each patient. Check to see if the med techs who dispense medicine are using latex gloves when handing out medicines. Ask the house keeping staff to use bacterial disinfectant cleaning solutions on surfaces and bathrooms. Protect your loved one from these potentially deadly infections. Read what the Center for Disease Control has to say about the norovirus.

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Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.