For over a year now, families have been worried about elderly loved ones residing in Los Angeles County nursing homes due to the spread of COVID-19 and the number of deaths in skilled nursing facilities. Yet when it comes to infection-control measures in Southern California nursing homes, COVID-19 is not the only issue that can result in serious injury and death to nursing home residents. Indeed, just as the pandemic is beginning to get under control through vaccines, health officials are identifying the rise of serious drug-resistant fungal infections in America’s nursing homes. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “a deadly, hard-to-treat fungal infection . . . has been spreading through nursing homes and hospitals across the United States,” and it is “becoming even more dangerous.”
Drug-Resistant Fungal Infection Evades All Medication
The most worrying recent issue concerning this drug-resistant fungus, Candida auris (or C. auris), is that several cases have been documented in which the infection “was completely impervious to all existing medication,” according to The New York Times article. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the drug resistance recently documented is “an alarming development in the evolution of C. auris.” The CDC describes it as “a tenacious yeast infection discovered in Japan in 2009 that has since spread across much of the world.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials believe the fungal infection spread much more easily since skilled nursing facilities were focusing on infection-control measures for the coronavirus while “struggling to keep up with the surveillance and control measures needed to contain local outbreaks” of C. auris. As a result, the fungal infection has begun overwhelming both nursing homes and hospitals, and a growing percentage of cases among the elderly cannot be treated with medication. Moreover, according to the article, “the shortages of personal protective equipment that hobbled health care workers during the early months of the pandemic . . . increased opportunities for the fungus’s transmission.”
Nursing Homes Have a Duty to Prevent Infections
Approximately one-third of those patients, according to the CDC, died within 30 days from contracting the fungal infection. Anywhere from 5-10% of patients diagnosed with C. auris over the last several years have developed bloodstream infections, which can ultimately lead to death. One infectious diseases doctor described the fungus as “a nightmare scenario for a drug-resistant pathogen.”
It is critical to understand that nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have a duty to implement infection-control measures to prevent patients from contracting viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens that can result in serious or fatal harm. Failure to do so may allow a patient or her family to file a successful nursing home neglect lawsuit against the skilled nursing facility where the resident contracted the infection. According to The New York Times, facilities need to do much more when it comes to “surveillance and infection control,” particularly when elderly patients are at risk.
Contact a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you have questions about filing a nursing home negligence lawsuit because of a serious or deadly infection, one of our Los Angeles County nursing home neglect attorneys can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.
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