Preventing Pneumonia in Nursing Homes

December 20, 2015

As winter approaches, so do the dreaded winter illnesses, more scary for those of us with elderly relatives, most susceptible to them. Top on the list of these illnesses are influenza and pneumonia.  In many cases, the first leads to the second.  If your loved one was diagnosed with pneumonia while in a nursing home, you are right to be concerned. Many patients who contract pneumonia in a nursing home will succumb to the illness.

Patients who live in nursing homes are much more likely to get pneumonia than those who live independently, mainly due to living in close quarters with so many others, and the disease is often contagious before the symptoms are noticed and treated. Early detection is the key, however, to protecting your loved one and preventing the further spread of disease in the nursing home.

The Risks of Pneumonia in a Nursing Home

Nursing home patients are full of elderly people already suffering from compromised health, so pneumonia can be life threatening. Therefore, nursing homes are obligated to put interventions in place to address any pneumonia patients and prevent the disease from spreading. Failure to properly address pneumonia prevention and transfer is negligence, as the nursing home has a duty to provide appropriate and timely treatment and prevention of disease once diagnosed.

The Statistics are Grim

Pneumonia acquired in the nursing home setting is very dangerous; between 10 and 30 percent of the residents who develop it will die within 30 days.  Just living in a nursing home adds to the risk of pneumonia. There are many studies which suggest that infections that occur in the nursing home are not fully evaluated before antibiotics are started, and the lack of a proper work-up often leads to worsening conditions for the patient. The lack of proper care (in this case a proper pre-antibiotic work-up) can be caused by several things: failure to be evaluated by a physician, improper evaluation by the physician, or lack of availability of a laboratory to do the testing. No matter the reason, if its leads to catching or worsening of pneumonia to your loved one, it is negligent.

How To Prevent Pneumonia

The single best thing you can do to protect your loved one against the scourge of nursing home acquired pneumonia is to make sure they receive the influenza vaccine.  This is crucial, because many cases of pneumonia begin with the flu, so preventing the flu will drastically cut down on the number of pneumonia cases.  If somebody does get the flu, nurses should distribute Tamiflu to the residents, as it may prevent or greatly reduce the intensity of the flu.

Call David Aylor Law Offices

Flu season and pneumonia season are coming.  If you have a loved one in nursing care, make sure they have had or will be getting the influenza vaccine, and the pneumonia vaccine if appropriate.  You must do everything possible to avoid pneumonia in a nursing home.  You cannot count on the staff of the nursing home to take appropriate preventative measures. The failure of the nursing home to implement proper precautions to protect your loved one from pneumonia can lead to serious bodily harm or even death.  The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at David Aylor Law Offices can help you and are ready to sit down and discuss your case today, so call or email now.  

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