When Illnesses Spread in the Nursing Home

Virus

Nursing homes provide elderly residents a communal living environment. Communal living has its advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, communal living provides elderly people with a social environment full of other people to engage with. It can be safer to live in communal living as an older person because others are nearby to report to authorities if you become hurt or need help. However, communal living does mean living in close quarters with others. The same people encounter one another each and every day with very limited places to go within the nursing home facility.

Sometimes illnesses can’t be helped; a resident’s granddaughter comes to visit and has a small cold, which she gives to her resident grandfather. The grandfather spreads the cold to other residents and mass illness ensues. However, when an illness has life-long lasting effects and normally would not be contracted by residents without someone, such as a caregiver, acting negligently, the staff may be committing nursing home abuse or neglect by spreading these types of communicable diseases.

A Few Examples of Recent Outbreaks in Nursing Homes

Hepatitis C in North Dakota Nursing Home. A recent outbreak of hepatitis C occurred in a North Dakota ManorCare Health Services nursing home located in Minot, resulting in 44 residents being diagnosed with the infection. Hepatitis C is a virus that is commonly transmitted through contact with infected blood. While the cause of the outbreak of infected individuals is still under investigation, it is theorized that the hepatitis C virus was spread to the residents through unsanitary blood services or through unsanitary foot and nail care services. It is unlikely that the root cause of the outbreak will ever be discovered as hepatitis is very slow to manifest symptoms and in 33% of cases the root cause is never conclusively determined. At least two residents of the home are suing in federal court, and the plaintiff’s attorney is seeking a class action to cover all of the 44 infected residents.

Norovirus Outbreak in Ohio Nursing Home. Noroviruses account for half of all diarrheal infections because they are easily transmitted from one person to another. This illness is often spread when an infected person handles food that is then consumed by uninfected people. When these types of infections last longer than two days, there is an increased risk that the infected individual will become dehydrated. A recent outbreak in a Loveland, Ohio nursing home has left 40-45 residents sick with the infection. The residents have been placed under quarantine, and are not allowed any visitors.

How Do These Outbreaks Happen?

When nursing home and medical staff at the nursing facility maliciously infect or inadvertently infect residents with communicable diseases they would not otherwise contract, it is a sign of nursing home abuse and negligence. The types of illnesses that residents are being exposed to are ones that they would ordinarily not be exposed to under normal circumstances, i.e., someone had to have acted negligently in order for the disease to be transmitted to the residents.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney

If you are concerned that your loved one has been exposed to a communicable disease due to the negligence of the nursing home staff, please contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at Rooth Law Firm. We are available online and by phone at (800) 350-0646.

Photo Credit: NIAID via Compfight cc

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