In a nursing home, the staff has the responsibility to keep the residents’ environment clean at all times. This means not just cleaning the residents’ rooms regularly, but maintaining clean premises in all common areas. Additionally, staff members are tasked with doing residents’ laundry and ensuring that they are bathed and changed regularly. Failure to stay on top of these tasks is neglect, no matter why it happens.
HOW NURSING HOME RESIDENTS DEVELOP INFECTIONS
There are many different ways neglect can lead to a resident’s infection. A few examples of these include:
- Staff’s failure to keep a resident’s wound or surgical site clean;
- Failure to contain airborne pathogens in the facility brought in by an ill resident, visitor, or staff member;
- Exposing residents to contaminated food and water, putting them at risk of contracting pathogens and experiencing food poisoning;
- Staff’s failure to thoroughly clean a resident’s genital area during showers and after changing their diapers, which puts the resident at risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI);
- Using non-sterile medical equipment during procedures; and
- Failing to maintain proper hygienic conditions in the facility, creating an environment where mites can thrive. These mites then bite residents and can cause them to suffer from scabies, a contagious skin infection.
Elderly individuals typically have weaker immune systems than younger adults. When an individual has a chronic illness or an injury, his or her immune system is compromised even further, increasing his or her chance of developing an infection when exposed to harmful bacteria.
In many cases, dirty environments and infections occur because nursing home staff members are overworked. It is not uncommon for staff members to be assigned to more patients than they can realistically provide optimal care for, which leads to burnt out staff members and neglected residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a correlation between poor working conditions for nurses and an increased infection rate in their facilities. Staff shortages were noted as one of the particular risk factors that increase a facility’s infection rate.
COMPLICATIONS OF AN INFECTION
When infections go untreated, they can have severe complications. Sometimes, these complications are severe to the point that they require extensive medical treatment and the use of life-saving devices like mechanical ventilators. In other cases, specific body parts can become so infected that the only way to prevent the infection from spreading is to amputate the affected area. In extreme cases, infections can be fatal.
A few specific infection complications include:
- Sepsis. When the patient’s immune system reacts strongly to an infection, he or she can suffer from sepsis. Sepsis is accompanied by severe inflammation throughout the body and if left untreated, can cause organ failure;
- Septic shock. Septic shock occurs when toxins are released into a patient’s bloodstream and cause his or her blood pressure to drop to a dangerously low level. An individual experiencing septic shock often has to receive intensive medical care and could need a ventilator to aid in breathing; and
- Bacteremia. When bacteria is present in the blood, it can travel through the body to cause new infections and conditions like sepsis.
The sooner an infection is diagnosed and treated, the better chance the patient has of making a full recovery. Infection symptoms include:
- A quickened or irregular heartbeat;
- Little or no urination despite being hydrated normally;
- Warm, reddened skin;
- Fever or a lowered body temperature;
- Loss of consciousness; and
- Difficulty breathing.
SEEKING COMPENSATION FOR INFECTION-RELATED NURSING HOME NEGLECT DAMAGES
If your loved one suffered an infection because of neglect on the part of his or her caregivers, you can pursue compensation for his or her damages by filing a nursing home neglect claim. If your loved one’s infection resulted in his or her death, you can pursue compensation for damages owed to his or her estate as well as your own damages, such as your emotional trauma following the death, through a wrongful death claim.
Be proactive and take two important steps as soon as you have medical confirmation of your loved one’s infection and reason to believe it was the result of caregiver negligence. The first is to report the case of alleged neglect to the Minnesota Department of Health Adult Abuse Reporting Center. The second is to contact an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer to begin building your case.
You need to support your claim with evidence that demonstrates how the infection and resulting illness or death was caused directly by caregiver negligence. This evidence can include:
- Your loved one’s medical bills;
- Photographs of the infection; and
- Documentation of other infections that occurred in the facility under the same circumstances, such as a food poisoning outbreak among residents or infections following all the medical procedures performed within a specific time period.
Through a nursing home neglect claim, you can pursue compensation for the following damages:
- Your loved one’s medical bills;
- His or her reduced quality of life;
- The cost of moving him or her to a new facility; and
- In some cases, punitive damages for the facility’s negligence.
Through a wrongful death claim, you can seek compensation for the following damages:
- Your loved one’s medical expenses if he or she received care for the infection before death;
- Your emotional trauma;
- Your loved one’s funeral expenses.
WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE ATTORNEY IN MN
When a loved one’s health deteriorates or he or she dies because of an infection related to negligence on the part of his or her caregivers, you have the right to pursue monetary compensation for your loved one’s damages on his or her behalf. To learn more about filing and pursuing a nursing home negligence claim, contact our team of MN nursing home negligence attorneys at Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation in our office.