When a patient in an Escondido nursing home suffers serious illness or injury as a result of a “superbug,” is nursing home negligence to blame? In other words, if a facility fails to take proper precautions to prevent nursing home patients from contracting “superbugs,” or medication-resistant bacteria and fungi, can that facility be held responsible for nursing home neglect? That is a question that elder safety advocates have begun asking in the wake of news about superbugs causing serious and fatal injuries in hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
How Nursing Homes are Grappling with Superbugs
According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, hospitals and nursing homes in California have begun using a strategy that might strike readers as bizarre at first: The facilities have started “washing patients with a special soap.” Along with facilities in Illinois, California nursing homes and hospitals are among the first to begin using this strategy, funded by about $8 million in total from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In all, about 50 facilities in both California and Illinois are employing this new procedure.
The article describes it as a “novel approach” while making clear that superbugs certainly are not confined only to nursing homes or hospitals. To be sure, these bacteria and fungi “move quickly through a community.” Every year, about two million people in the U.S. are infected with superbugs, which is another term for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Of those two million people who become ill, approximately 23,000 die as a result of infection with superbugs, the CDC reports.
Nursing Home Patients are Especially Vulnerable When it Comes to Superbugs
Patients in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to superbugs, and the article reports that “up to . . . 65% of nursing home residents harbor drug-resistant organisms.” However, not all of those patients ultimately will get sick. According to Dr. Susan Huang, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of California-Irvine, “superbugs are scary and they are unabated,” and “they don’t go away.”
Some of the most common superbugs are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Every year, CRE bacteria result in approximately 600 deaths, and some infectious disease specialists compare the superbugs like this: “if MRSA is a superbug, this [CRE] is the extreme—the super superbug.”
In response to superbugs, as we mentioned above, a number of California nursing homes have started using chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial soap, with nursing home patients. Studies show that patients who routinely bathe in this type of soap, or use it as a mouthwash when patients have dental infections, are less likely to become ill with superbugs. In addition to the antimicrobial soap, California nursing homes are also using iodine nose swabs. Both the antimicrobial baths and nose swabs have two aims: to prevent patients from acquiring superbugs, and to prevent patients who have superbugs from developing infections.
Discuss Your Case with an Escondido Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
Nursing homes have a duty to protect patients from preventable infections in certain circumstances. When patients do become ill, those patients and their families may be eligible to file a nursing home neglect claim. If you have questions or concerns, you should discuss them with an Escondido nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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