An often fatal superbug is increasingly being found in hospitals and nursing homes across the country. A formerly obscure drug-resistant bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), has been found in health care facilities throughout the nation’s largest cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The deadly family of bacteria was named for its ability to fight off carbapenem antibiotics which are normally a medical provider’s last line of defense against superbugs. Since 2008, thousands of hospital and nursing home patient deaths were purportedly caused by CRE. Earlier this year, a strain of the bacteria reportedly killed seven, including a 16-year-old, at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.
The first known case of CRE was described in 2001. Since then, the superbug has allegedly shown up at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in at least 41 states. At this time, the reported rate of death for patients who contract CRE is about 40 percent. Because CRE infection may affect a nursing home resident’s intestines, urinary tract, or cause pneumonia, many cases likely go undiagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Arjun Srinivasan said CRE is currently the most serious threat to hospital and skilled nursing facility patients across the country.
Unfortunately, CRE can allegedly remain in an individual’s system without any symptoms until the immune system of an infected person is compromised. According to Dr. Mary Hayden, Director of Clinical Microbiology at Rush University Medical Center, studies show that about three percent of hospital intensive care patients in Chicago carry CRE. In addition, the same studies show that up to 30 percent of long-term care facility residents in the area are infected. The bacteria can allegedly be transmitted to others by mere contact. Dr. Hayden stated CRE is especially dangerous for nursing home residents due the easy manner in which it is spread. She believes implementing a universal patient record system that tracks both CRE and facility changes might help keep the elderly and disabled in Illinois safer.
At this time, most long-term care facilities purportedly lack the capacity to properly identify, screen, and isolate residents who are infected with CRE. In addition, the Medicaid and Medicare federal systems do not report cases of CRE. A 2008 study regarding CRE infection rates in New York skilled nursing facilities allegedly found that many facilities do not keep abreast of most drug-resistant bacteria despite that the risk for infection is allegedly high for nursing home residents. According to physicians, heavy vigilance with regard to hand washing and other infection-control measures can help control dangerous CRE and other disease outbreaks.
Skilled nursing facility residents normally live in close proximity to one another. Because of this, communicable diseases are often spread easily in nursing homes. Although Illinois nursing home employees are required to take precautionary measures designed to control the spread of disease, many fail to do so. Unfortunately, such failures can have disastrous consequences for facility residents.
Appropriate sanitation is vital to the health of long-term care facility residents in Illinois and elsewhere. It is both unnecessary and negligent for skilled nursing facility staff to fail to adhere to recommended sanitation procedures. Additionally, all nursing homes in the State of Illinois must designate an infection prevention and control professional to create and implement policies that are designed to reduce and limit the spread of communicable diseases. If your relative died after he or she contracted a preventable disease due to nursing home caregiver negligence, you are advised to discuss the situation with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.
If you lost a friend or family member to a preventable illness while he or she was a patient in an Illinois skilled nursing facility, contact the capable lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. Our hardworking Chicago area nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you protect the rights of your elderly or disabled loved ones. For a free consultation with a competent Illinois lawyer, give Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
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Deadly ‘superbugs’ invade U.S. health care facilities, by Peter Eisler, USA Today