Improper plans for flu season could be labeled elder abuse in nursing homes

How a nursing home deals with their residents and their health tells a lot about the quality of the care the home provides. Unfortunately, some nursing homes show their disregard of the elderly in how they are handling (or not handling) the current flu epidemic.

Because of a combination of factors, this year’s influenza shot is not as effective as all of us would have hoped. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the flu will be fatal to many, especially the elderly and the very young. With a number of different flu strains appearing in the U.S., the most virulent is the H3N2 virus.

The CDC reports that that the flu has taken the lives of 12,000 Americans in mild years, and as many as 56,000 in moderately severe ones. They predict this year to be moderately severe.

The flu is easily spread and in communal spaces, like schools, hospitals and nursing homes, the risk of catching the flu is greatly increased. Some schools have closed and most hospitals have taken extraordinary measures to keep staff and other patients from getting it. But what about nursing homes? Do they have a plan in place?

Questions that long-term providers need to be asked

Whether you have a loved one in a long-term facility, or you are a personal injury attorney representing a potential case of negligence in a nursing home, there are certain questions you need to ask about how prepared the facility is to deal with the flu epidemic.

  • Did all residents and staff receive the flu shot?
  • Have any of the residents or staff been diagnosed with the flu?
  • Do staff, residents and visitors know the protocol relating to hygiene and sickness etiquette?
  • In the case of a loved one, will you be notified if he or she develops flu-like symptoms?
  • In the case of a personal injury attorney, was the family notified that the resident had developed flu-like symptoms?
  • Can I see your flu outbreak prevention and containment plan?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring that this plan is carried out properly?
  • What other types of infection control do you have in place?

If you have concerns about someone residing in a long-term facility, these questions become extraordinarily important. It is the administration that is responsible for all care strategies and their policies should reflect that. There should be continuous staff training and monitoring. If you meet resistance to having your questions answered, it could be a sign that the facility is not doing what it should be doing to protect its residents against the flu outbreak.

Nursing homes can’t always be responsible for a resident coming into contact with the flu, but if they have been grossly and obviously negligent in their care plan, they need to be held responsible. Our elderly deserve it.

Group Matrix Blog – January 31, 2018 – by Sharon Bowles



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