Omaha Nursing Home Infections Attorney
When we place our loved ones in a nursing home, we expect them to receive the best in medical care and treatment available. However, more often than not, long-term care facilities are breeding grounds for dangerous diseases, including the flu, pneumonia, and, most recently, COVID-19, all of which require mindful treatment plans for the elderly. Several factors contribute to residents becoming ill due to infectious diseases, including a lack of proper sanitation, neglect, poor outbreak planning, and understaffing.
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If you or a loved one suffered a serious infection and injury as a result of a negligent nursing home administrator, staff member, or healthcare professional, then you may be eligible to file a claim for damages and should contact the legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Based on years of experience and diligent research, our Omaha nursing home infections attorney can evaluate whether or not you have a case and how to move forward with a claim for compensation. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation and learn what options are available to you.
Elderly residents often must contend with compromised immune systems, meaning they are more likely to suffer serious or deadly infections as a result of being exposed to viruses and bacteria. Even minor cuts can lead to catastrophic injuries if not treated properly. In major crises like the SARS-epidemic or COVID-19 outbreak, the elderly are one of the most at-risk groups, often receiving the least amount of treatment.
Diseases that a resident can contract as a result of negligent nursing home practices include:
- Seasonal flu
- Bedsores/Pressure ulcers
- Urinary tract infections
- Bacterial and viral gastroenteritis
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
To combat these diseases, nursing homes should employ proper sanitation when handling patients, pay close attention to symptoms, and attend to any injuries or illnesses accordingly.
Failure to provide proper health care in long-term care facilities is actually a violation of both federal and state regulations. In the state of Nebraska, nursing homes are overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which outlines strict regulations for operating a nursing home, including requiring:
- Reviews of certifications and licenses
- Regular inspections
- Building code reviews
- Evaluation of healthcare standards and treatment
Among these regulations are clear rules regarding resident treatment with regard to preventing diseases or the loss of abilities. These regulations include proper treatment for pressure sores, urinary tract infections, bowel diseases, and any special needs a resident may have. In addition, the facilities must abide by sanitization, food, and water requirements to prevent against a resident’s declining health or medical conditions, such as weight loss, diabetes, foodborne illnesses, and dehydration.
Alongside the standards of care outlined by the state of Nebraska, federal regulations also govern how nursing homes respond to infections. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has outlined a final rule regarding long-term care facilities that explains how nursing homes should respond to infectious diseases and the standards of care they must provide. In addition to re-iterating the treatment plans for infections, the CMS also requires nursing homes to develop and implement Infection Prevention and Control Programs (IPCP) to combat outbreaks of dangerous diseases, including the seasonal flu, SARS, and COVID-19.
As a part of the many guidelines outlined by the CMS and DHHS, one of the most important is having an IPCP. These programs are designed to provide clear guidelines about how to respond to a major outbreak, oftentimes to deal with the seasonal flu. Through these programs, nursing homes can identify sick patients, provide proper treatment or care, isolate infected individuals and at-risk residents, and minimize the spread of the disease.
However, when nursing homes fail to have these plans in place before an outbreak or implement one in a timely manner, diseases can spread rapidly, infecting both staff members and residents. Once this occurs, it can be difficult to treat patients with limited medical supplies and staff, oftentimes leading to multiple injuries and deaths because of the disease. Due to their compromised immune systems, elderly residents have more difficulty fighting off infections like the flu and may suffer lasting damage to their organs, such as their lungs after contracting pneumonia, and may even die from an infection.
Failing to plan and implement an IPCP may not only lead to federal and state violations but also open up a nursing home to liability in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. To properly determine if you have a case against a nursing home, you must first prove how the facility acted negligently with regard to resident treatment.
Infectious diseases can be transmitted in several different ways depending on the specific virus, bacteria, parasite, or fungi. Healthcare facilities, as expected, encounter numerous diseases every day, but proper sanitation, hygiene, and safety protocols can minimize the risk to residents.
The major causes of infections and outbreaks in nursing homes include:
- Lack of proper sanitation
- Lack of proper hygiene
- Lack of cleaning materials, soap, and handwashing stations
- Improper assessments of residents’ health and conditions
- Failure to test for diseases
- Failure to isolate infected patients
- Failure to provide vaccinations and medication to combat infections
- Allowing staff members and visitors to come in while sick
- Failure to abide by state and federal regulations
- Failure to implement an IPCP
Another major factor is a lack of staff. If a nursing home does not have enough staff members to handle each patient’s treatment plan, clean facilities and equipment, and keep up with day-to-day tasks, the facility may face significant difficulties responding to infections and outbreaks. However, nursing homes should always work to keep their staff numbers high in accordance with the number of residents housed there. When they do not, staff members may become overworked or neglect patients’ needs, resulting in deadly infections like bedsores.
The COVID-19 outbreak has justifiably put a lot of families on edge with regards to their loved ones’ health, especially for elderly family members. Many of us are worried about whether or not our parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts could become ill while staying at a nursing home and end up suffering from a debilitating medical condition. In addition to the coronavirus, residents are also at risk of contracting the flu, bedsores, UTI’s, and other infections that could be very costly for their health.
But, as nursing home neglect with regard to resident health and treatment is a federal and state violation, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. If you or someone you loved suffered a serious infection because of nursing home negligence, then you should not hesitate to contact a Nebraska nursing home neglect attorney. The legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. takes nursing home neglect cases extremely seriously and can staunchly defend your right to compensation. To learn what options are available to you under the law, contact us at (402) 505-8234 and schedule a free case evaluation.
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