Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, a very treatable infection can go undetected because care providers were not keeping a careful lookout for changes in condition or did not take seriously or follow up on resident complaints. Residents with fever might complain of feeling chilled or hot. Resident with a developing infection might stop eating, drinking or participating in activities. A resident with a urinary tract infection might not want to go to the bathroom. These are all things that require care provider follow-up. Some infections can go on to cause sepsis, shock or organ failure if timely recognition and treatment is not provided.
In many ways, a nursing home is a quasi-healthcare facility. Much like a hospital, a nursing home can be a place where infections can spread quickly. Those under the care of a nursing home may have weakened immune systems and suffer from greater sickness and suffering when infected.
Due to the unique nature of nursing homes, the spread of infection is a constant threat, however there are means in which a home can prevent infections and subsequent outbreaks throughout the home.
Cleanliness is an important factor in preventing infection. Residents and their loved ones should look for things like washing stations, janitorial staff, and a cleaning schedule are all positive signs of fulfilling the homes duty of care. Other infections such as Urinary Tract Infections can be prevented by ensuring all nutrients are being distributed in the most impactful manner. There are also more personalized activities that may need to take place. An individual who has suffered a cut or some other opening in the skin should quickly be treated with the appropriate disinfection medicines and any wraps or gauze to prevent further infection. Those who have recently underwent medical procedures often need the most attention. This includes nutrition, medication and attending to the wounded area.
Activities such as these are all part of meeting what is referred to as the “standard of care.” This creates a guideline of what those in similar positions do to take care of those who they have a responsibility to. A Dedicated Nursing Home Attorney will look at the behaviors of other homes in the area and any legal standards that are established to help determine if the appropriate steps are taken. Even if there is a well laid out plan, there can always be areas where caretakers fail. If there is a showing of negligence it may be due to a variety of reasons.
A nursing home’s staff should always be receptive to the needs of the residents. The first step in this is to simply be aware. Being aware requires some simple steps, including communication, done by speaking to residents, observations for changes in health and consistent check-ups are all positive steps to take to prevent infection.
When an infection is suspected, appropriate medical professionals should be alerted immediately. This will start the process of getting testing completed and forming a plan of action to minimize the spread and eliminate any infection as quickly as possible.
While in the treatment process, special care must be given to both the individual who is suffering from the infection and the nursing home community as a whole. For the individual, the treatment prescribed by doctors must be followed and further testing may be done to ensure that there the infection has not spread and has been eliminated.
To protect the rest of the community, staff should be trained in the necessary precautions to prevent transmission, especially to other vulnerable residents. This includes hand washing, changing of protective equipment, and keeping used items quarantined from sanitary items.
In extreme cases, an individual may be best treated at the hospital where around-the-clock care is possible. In these cases, it’s important for the home to understand the limitations of their equipment and expertise.
There are a variety of factors that your local attorney will look for in showing that there has been neglect in the nursing home. Factors such as documentation standards, staffing, cleanliness, and preventative measures that are visible.
Some key things to look for include bathing schedules when assistance is necessary, procedures for cleaning, and responses to infections. You may want to ask questions such as the availability of doctors, responsiveness to needs, and what steps are taken when someone reports that they are not feeling well. The answers to these questions will provide you and your attorney with critical insights into if the standard of care is met.
Combatting negligence is a hands-on activity that requires checking records, speaking with the patient and physically showing up whenever possible. Following these steps not only show that you are present and able to notice downturns in health and care but also allow you to know the staff and how they interact with your loved one.
Serious injuries can and do occur due to infections. You or your loved one may need extensive medical care, or even long-term care in the recovery effort. Fortunately, it is possible to recover some of those losses, including:
• Medical expenses, including emergency care and ongoing treatments
• Long term disability
• Pain and suffering, including emotional injuries
• Diminished quality of life
To determine what damages can be recovered, your attorney will look at the entirety of the claim. In addition to what happened to your loved one, they may also look through any available history to see if there is a pattern of these issues that may shed light on policies and procedures. All of this combined will help to set a course through what can be a very trying time for you and your family.
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State and federal law require that nursing home residents undergo periodic assessments of their health conditions and specific needs. These assessments then lead to the creation of a unique plan of care for the resident. The care plan is then implemented for the resident. In order for this process to work effectively, the initial assessment must be thorough and accurate. The care plan then needs to be created and followed diligently.
Unfortunately, resident assessments and care plans are not always created and implemented properly. This can cause situations where the resident is not cared for properly or one of the resident’s physical limitations is completely overlooked. Situations of understaffing or poorly trained care providers often contribute to the problem.
Sometimes the most important part of nursing home care is that very simple thing be done for the resident on a careful and consistent basis and then accurately documented. This allows for the creation of a record that can be analyzed and assessed for trends and changes in condition. What is the resident’s weight? How much has the resident been eating and drinking? Are the resident’s vital signs stable? Have there been any reactions to medications? Has the resident been engaged in activities? Has the resident’s skin been assessed? If the resident is a risk for falling, have the fall precautions been followed? Should the doctor be called? Have the laboratory results been reviewed? These questions point out how a resident’s care providers must be on the careful lookout for subtle changes in a resident’s condition. The failure to identify, document and report changes can be harmful and even deadly for the resident.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be eligible for financial compensation.