While nursing homes serve as a place for elderly individuals to go and live who require around the clock care and supervision, they are also a place where contagious diseases tend to lurk. Just like hospitals, nursing homes tend to attract many germs that can lead to an aging individual developing an infection or disease. And because nursing home residents generally have weaker immune systems, these diseases and infections can have detrimental effects on them when they become ill.
So, if you have a loved one living in a nursing home in Phoenix or any other city and are wondering how infections spread, below we highlight a few of the most common types that are often found in these facilities and what causes them to infect several residents at a time.
Pneumonia is “an infection in one or both of your lungs” and “isn’t just one single disease” [Source: American Lung Association]. In fact, “it can have more than 30 different causes” which means there are a multitude of ways to treat it. This can be especially challenging for physicians as they first must determine what caused a resident to become ill with pneumonia and then they must find the appropriate treatment to treat the infection.
How does pneumonia spread?
People “spread [pneumonia] by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets in the air that contain the bacteria. Other people then breathe in the bacteria” [Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. This means if that a resident were to cough into their hands and then touch a door handle or the arm of a chair and another resident came behind them and touched it as well, they risk contracting the infection. Nurses and other nursing home staff members can spread these germs as well if they fail to wash their hands or the areas where an ill resident may have been.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea” [Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)]. The CDC says that this virus can spread in a number of different ways including:
- Coming in direct contact with an infected person. Let’s say someone was just transferred out of the hospital and into a nursing home facility who had the virus. They then put all other residents they come in contact at risk of catching it as well.
- Consuming contaminated food or water.
- Touching contaminated surfaces and then putting unwashed hands near your face or in your mouth.
- Clostridium difficile, also known as C.diff
C. diff is a very serious bacterial infection that can be life-threatening to an aging individual who catches it. C. diff causes the colon to become inflamed and must be treated immediately to prevent a person’s condition from worsening. Now, although the bacteria exists all around us, says WebMD, as it is in “the air, water, soil, and in the feces of humans and animals,” those who took a course of antibiotics who come in contact with the bacteria are at risk of getting sick. Like other infections, it can be spread from person to person and a nursing home resident is likely to become infected if they “touch clothing, sheets, or other surfaces that have come in contact with feces.”
Nursing home residents who aren’t bathed regularly, which is a sign of neglect, could potentially spread the infection if they have the bacteria in their system and health care staff as well if they fail to wash their hands or anything else that has touched feces.
Now, although it is inevitable that infections and diseases are going to arise in nursing homes as there are many ill patients coming and going, there are ways to prevent them from spreading. And it starts with the healthcare staff recognizing when a resident is sick and taking the appropriate course of action.Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed or are being run by workers who aren’t tending to their residents as regularly as they should which only increases the chances of these illnesses spreading.
My loved one recently became ill while living in a nursing home in Phoenix, AZ. Is there anything I can do?
Aside from making sure they get the care and medical attention they require, you may want to find out what caused them to get sick. Was it from natural causes or were they being neglected? Sometimes, when a nursing home resident isn’t bathed on a regular basis, taken to the bathroom when they need to go, or the staff members are negligent and fail to keep the premises clean which causes infections to spread, they can be held accountable when someone gets sick.
If you would like to find out what exactly can be done to hold a nursing home staff member or facility accountable if the spread of an illness has led to your loved developing a more serious medical condition or has led to their death, contact a Phoenix, AZ nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Our attorneys will be able to use the knowledge and experience they have to determine if the facility is liable for your family members pain and suffering and the forms of actions that can be taken.
To get connected with a local nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer in the Phoenix, AZ area now, contact USAttorneys.com today.