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A Fungus Among Us – Nursing Homes and Candida Auris

A Fungus Among Us – Nursing Homes and Candida Auris

Candida Auris is one of the most virulent and drug resistant fungus in the United States. Fifty percent of the people who contract this fungus are dead within 90 days. Unfortunately, more and more cases are being found in nursing homes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it a global health threat. According to the CDC,

  1. It is often multidrug-resistant, meaning that it is resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections.
  2. It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. Misidentification may lead to inappropriate management.
  3. It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify C. auris in a hospitalized patient so that healthcare facilities can take special precautions to stop its spread.

First identified in 2009, the New York Times says it has infected 800 people since coming to the United States in 2015.

Although thankfully rare, it has been known to spread quickly through nursing homes. 39 patients at the Palm Gardens Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation facility in Brooklyn were diagnosed with it. [After the NYT investigation, the New York Health Department said, “The Department of Health has made controlling the spread of C. auris a high priority and has conducted extensive training and education on infection control policies and procedures for Palm Gardens and other nursing home providers throughout this region. The health and well being of nursing home residents is our primary concern and we take complaints regarding quality of care very seriously.”

Why nursing homes?

Many patients in nursing homes are on multiple antibiotics. Infections and diseases have long been known to develop resistance to drugs. Fungus infections are no different.

Another factor is understaffing and lack of proper infection control. (Hospitals usually have much better controls that will stop the spread of the disease.)

A third factor is that candida auris is hard to identify without testing, something that is lacking in nursing homes. Labs that identify c. auris are required to report it in most states but without testing, it can rapidly spread through a facility in the absence of testing.

Should Nursing Home Residents Worry?

Absolutely! We are not hitting the panic button but poor staffing and sanitation procedures results in nursing homes having all sorts of deadly infection control problems. It’s not just Candida Auris that is today lurking in some nursing homes. Today we find all sorts of drug resistant bacteria lurking in these facilities.

Common deadly infectious diseases that often spread through nursing homes include:

Clostrim Difficile – (commonly called “C. Diff”) is an infection in the colon. C. Diff can quickly become severe and often results in death. It is spread through feces and often spreads through nursing homes where staff fails to wash their hands between patients.

Methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – (“MRSA”) is a bacterial “super bug” that is resistant antibiotics. MRSA spreads by human contact and contact with infected items such as equipment. Like C. Diff, if not promptly treated MRSA can result in death.

Psedomas aeruginosa – A strain of bacteria commonly responsible for respiratory infections. Patients on respirators or with pneumonia are most at risk. It spreads through human contact or contaminated equipment.

Klebsiella pnuemoniae – An infection that can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections and meningitis. Unless immediately identified and treated, it has a mortality rate of over 50%.

Necrotizing fasciitis – (“flesh eating bacteria”) rapidly destroys muscle and soft tissue as the bacteria feed on the healthy cells.

Special Candida Auris Alert – Illinois, New Jersey & New York

As of this writing, the CDC believes about 600 cases have been reported in the United States since 2014. Because they can travel quickly through a nursing home, they tend to be concentrated. To date most of the cases have been found in three states, New York, New Jersey and the Chicago area of Illinois.

Since most nursing homes don’t perform the same level of testing as hospitals, we hear of cases where the fungus has jumped to other local nursing homes. We believe that occurs because many nursing home patients need frequent hospitalization. Since they are not subject to the same rigorous lab testing, an infected patient may transfer the fungus to another patient who doesn’t show symptoms. That patient brings the infection into the hospital where it is transmitted to another patient who then goes to a different nursing home.

Can I Sue My Nursing Home for Candida Auris?

The answer is yes. Although the standard of care owed to nursing home residents and the law varies state to state, many nursing homes don’t meet state staffing guidelines. That means they do a poor job of sanitizing and combating infections. Poor salaries and training also contributes to the problem.

If infections are left untreated in a nursing home, they can quickly lead to death. Even minor infections can be life threatening in elderly individuals. That’s because the elderly often have a compromised immune system.

A few simple steps can stop the spread of most diseases. Common infection control steps include:

  • Hand Hygiene. Nursing home staff are often overworked and underpaid. The latter often leads to hiring workers who are not qualified. Studies show that nursing home workers follow proper hand sanitization less than half the time.
  • Environmental cleanliness. Continuous cleaning and use of germicides are often lacking at nursing homes.
  • Protective equipment. (Gloves, face masks, gowns)
  • Training. Some nursing home workers only get an hour or two of sanitation awareness and procedure training. That’s it. Facilities should constantly train staff on proper hygiene and sanitation.

No one goes to a nursing home expecting to get sepsis or c. auris. Unfortunately, because of poor staffing and hygiene, such serious infections are too common.

When a nursing home fails to maintain clean and sanitary conditions, it breaches its duty to care to patients. When that happens, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Damages include medical expenses, pain and suffering, future care expenses and diminished life expectancy.

I Have Candida Auris, Now What?

Our network of experienced nursing home neglect attorneys understands the special needs of elderly and disabled clients. We know how to aggressively prosecute infection claims against nursing homes.

Unlike some personal injury lawyers that like to quickly settle (“quantity over quality”), our lawyers are all handpicked for their skill, experience, and willingness to take cases to trial. We have the financial depth to hire the right expert witnesses when the wrongdoers deny responsibility or refuse to settle on favorable terms.

If you or a loved one has contracted candida auris or other super bug in a nursing home and believe it is because of poor care or inadequate staffing, let us know. We will connect you with an experienced hand-picked lawyer in your state. Our consultations are always free, confidential and without obligation. Contact us by email [hidden email], by phone 833.201.1555 or contact us online anyway. There are specific time limits in every state about bringing claims. Wait too long and you could lose your rights.

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