Vulnerable American nursing home patients are at increased risk of developing an aggressive, drug-resistant, and deadly fungal infection that is spreading rapidly across the U.S. and around the globe.
As recently reported in the New York Times, a highly contagious fungus called Candida auris (C. auris) has infected nearly 800 people since its arrival in the United States four years ago. An additional 1,540 people carry the germ without showing any symptoms of infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases have been found in skilled nursing home patients in New York, Chicago, and New Jersey, and half of those who contract the infection die within 90 days.
Why Nursing Homes Are Breeding Grounds for Fatal Infections
As public health officials at the federal, state, and local levels urgently try to stop the spread of C. auris, they are focusing their efforts on the nation’s nursing homes generally and on residents who require ventilation for breathing, in particular.
As the Times report notes, “A study published in June in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that patients and residents in long-term care settings have alarmingly high rates of drug-resistant colonization, which means they carry the germs on their skin or in their bodies, usually without knowing it, and can pass them invisibly to staff members, relatives or other patients. Elderly or severely ill people with weakened immune systems who carry the germ are at high risk of becoming infected.”
In Chicago, for example, half of the residents living on dedicated ventilator floors in skilled nursing homes show signs of infection or are harboring C. auris in their bodies.
There are several reasons why experts place the blame on nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities for the rapid spread of infections like C. auris. These facilities are often understaffed or underfunded, leaving them unable or unwilling to implement needed infection control and sterilization protocols. Approximately 1,400 American nursing homes received a lowly one-star rating from the Center for Medicaid Services in 2018 due to poor and inadequate staffing.
Once infected, patients often get cycled in and out of hospitals where they expose more individuals to the germs they carry. “Resistant germs can then move from bed to bed, or from patient to family or staff, and then to hospitals and the public because of lax hygiene and poor staffing,” according to the Times.
Sommers Schwartz: Protecting Michigan Seniors and Their Families From Nursing Home Negligence
Such shortcomings are inexcusable. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities owe a duty to patients, residents, and their families to provide proper care, which includes taking the steps necessary to minimize the risk of infection. When such facilities breach that duty and patients get sick or die as a result, they need to be held accountable while victims and their families need to be compensated for their losses.
At Sommers Schwartz, our Michigan nursing home negligence attorneys have the experience and commitment to protect seniors from nursing home abuse and neglect and get them and their families the justice and compensation they deserve.
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in a Michigan nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact us today.