Respiratory illnesses are highly contagious, and conditions in nursing homes often make it easy for illnesses to spread among vulnerable residents. Respiratory infections can have devastating consequences for senior citizens, who may already be in poor health. Even the common cold can quickly progress to a serious respiratory infection.
Nursing Home Residents at Risk of Developing Respiratory Infections
Senior citizens typically have weakened immune systems that make them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses than younger people. According to UT Southwestern Medical Center, when the immune system works to fight a virus, it may cause inflammation in the airways that may eventually lead to lung damage.
In a nursing home, staff members travel from room to room, caring for patients. They touch residents and common surfaces, which can make it easy for germs to be spread throughout the facility. In addition, residents gather for meals and social activities and frequently touch tables, chairs, and other surfaces that have already been touched by other people. Visitors, delivery people, and maintenance and repair workers may bring germs with them that can then spread to residents and staff.
How Neglect in Nursing Homes Can Put Residents at Risk
Nursing home staff have a responsibility to do everything they can to protect elderly residents from germs that could make them sick. Good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses spreading in nursing homes. Staff members should wash their hands frequently, and common areas, such as dining rooms and recreational spaces, should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of illnesses among residents and staff.
These measures could reduce the spread of diseases and possibly save lives, but many staff members do not take the time to wash their hands and to maintain a high level of cleanliness in nursing homes. According to The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, improper handwashing is a form of neglect.
Why Nursing Homes May Not Maintain Good Hygiene
Staff may not follow appropriate hygiene practices because of inadequate training. They may not understand how easy it is for respiratory infections to spread in a nursing home and how much of a role good hygiene can play in keeping residents safe.
Understaffing in nursing homes is a common problem. Many facilities do not employ adequate numbers of workers to properly care for residents or do not have enough staff members on duty. Nursing home employees often feel overwhelmed and burnt out, and long-term care facilities frequently experience high turnover rates.
Medical staff may be overwhelmed by a large caseload, and they may not have the time to give residents the level of care and attention they deserve. That can allow a seemingly simple problem, such as a cold, to be missed, and it may then progress to a serious and life-threatening respiratory infection.
How A Lawyer May Be Able to Help Your Family
Since 1985, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has been helping victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and their families seek justice. Abuse and neglect of vulnerable people are unfortunately common and can lead to serious injuries and even death. Our firm is dedicated to holding those responsible accountable for their actions or negligence.
Our team can investigate circumstances in the nursing home that may have contributed to your loved one’s respiratory infection. We may speak to your family member about conditions in the facility and interview staff members, other residents, and people who visited the nursing home to learn about circumstances they observed.
We may also review the facility’s procedures, personnel records, and documents related to cleaning and health inspections to gather evidence that we may be able to use to make a case.
We understand that many of our clients would not be able to pay for attorney’s fees out of pocket. That should not be a concern for your family. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm works on a contingency model. That means that we pay for costs related to litigation ourselves. Our clients do not have to pay us any money up front. Our firm only collects a fee if we obtain a financial award on a client’s behalf.
Victims of personal injuries have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations vary by state. Call our office at (800) 842-6336 to talk to a member of our staff and to learn more about your legal rights and how we may be able to help your family seek justice.