Because of the number of patients they house, large residential facilities such as nursing homes are more prone to infections and contagious diseases. But there are precautions and safety measures nursing homes are expected to know and follow that prevent the spread of disease, and can prevent an individual resident’s condition from turning into a large-scale outbreak.
Only four pathogens—influenza virus, norovirus, salmonella and S pyogenes—make up more than 50% of all infectious agents involved. These common viruses and bacteria are easy to tackle if a nursing home has a proper system of infection control and prevention. While many of us have caught and easily recovered from these illnesses, for the elderly they can cause serious health complications, and may even lead to death.
All seniors over 65 are recommended by the CDC to take a flu shot every year around fall. In a nursing home especially, the doctors, nurses, and staff must remain aware of this recommendation and communicate it on patient charts and medical records. Furthermore, all nursing home staff members need to understand the protocols of disease prevention and control. Basics such as changing gloves and washing hands, need to be known and fully followed by staff. Unfortunately, these factors get overlooked in understaffed nursing homes. Employees get overwhelmed by the number of residents they must care for, and they start bypassing even the most basics steps in infection control.
Caregivers, if infected, can easily spread norovirus to residents by having close contact, such as by caring for, or preparing food for them. These are the main duties of caregivers at a nursing home. The dietary department is responsible for preparing residents’ meals, and nurses and other caregivers interact with residents daily. Imagine how many residents could get sick from a sick staffer who prepares their food. Nursing homes should not only have policies that encourage their staff to stay home when they are sick, but also invest in educating all staffers regarding how they can prevent the spread of disease.
Knowledge of food preparation and safety must be known to nursing home staffers, especially those responsible for handling food. Uncooked or undercooked food are usually the cause of salmonella. Many other food-borne illnesses are also easily preventable when a nursing home properly implements food safety guidelines.
Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat, can result in more serious conditions such as rheumatic fever, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and pneumonia. Streptococcus can spread through airborne droplets when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes. You can also pick up the bacteria from a doorknob or other surfaces and transfer them to your nose, mouth, or eyes. Therefore, because streptococcus is so contagious, it is important for nursing homes to have proper measures in place that can prevent an individual’s sickness from turning into an outbreak.
What You Can Do?
Know that there are options for you if you or your loved one has suffered injury at a nursing home due to an untreated bacterial/viral infection. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys fight for you and hold these care facilities accountable for their wrongdoings. The Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. has over 50 years of combined experience that we put to the test everyday fighting for you. Contact us for your free, initial consultation. We can be reached at 1 (312) 384-1920, 1 (800) 693-1LAW, or by email.