Nursing home abuse and neglect is a largely-underreported epidemic in America. According to the National Council on Aging, approximately five million elders are the victims of some form of abuse each year in the United States. The most common perpetrators of elder abuse include family members, nursing home staff, and caretakers, but sometimes the cause of serious harm – or even death – to an elderly nursing home resident can be more difficult to see.
Failing to Address Bacterial Outbreaks Can Constitute Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home facilities are not immune from bacterial and viral outbreaks. Given the close proximity in which residents live with one another, these outbreaks can quickly spread and impact a considerable number of residents in a short period of time. Given that some bacterial infections are resistant to medications and treatments these outbreaks can easily become life-threatening events. While a nursing facility may not be able to prevent all viral or bacterial outbreaks, a nursing home ought to have policies and procedures in place to reduce the chances of such outbreaks from occurring, such as:
- Handwashing policies for staff;
- Policies dictating how bodily fluids and other potential contaminants should be cleaned and disposed of;
- Food safety policies.
Not only this, but nursing homes ought to have policies directing what staff and supervisors ought to do in the event a resident becomes ill from a bacterial or viral infection. For example:
- Should the infected resident be isolated and, if so, how and where?
- How and how often should the infected individual’s room and belongings be cleaned?
- Should additional checks be performed on other residents to quickly detect any spread of the infection?
Failing to create and/or follow these policies can give rise to a claim for neglect in the event a resident becomes ill or dies from an outbreak that could have been better controlled or prevented. Aggrieved residents and/or their surviving family members may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and (in some cases) punitive damages.
After You Suspect an Outbreak at Your Loved One’s Nursing Home
Signs that an outbreak at your loved one’s nursing home may include a large number of residents who appear sick, unexplained sores or blisters on your loved one’s body, and staff members who appear to be taking extra precautions (such as using gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment when they would otherwise not use such items). If your loved one appears to show signs of disease, speak with the medical staff of the home and/or your loved one’s primary medical provider to ensure any illness is addressed promptly.
If you believe your loved one’s nursing home unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed your loved one to a bacterial infection or virus, Case Barnett Law may be able to assist. Contact our California elder abuse and neglect attorneys for assistance. We can assist you in investigating and reporting elder abuse and neglect that impacts your loved one. Contact us at (9494) 861-2990, or use our online contact form, and let us help you and your loved one recover and move forward from a bacterial or viral event at a nursing home.