Viral Illnesses and Health Care Facilities

virus-1812092_1920-300x150An alarming tragedy is unfolding in New Jersey – nine children have died as a result of a viral outbreak at a nursing home in Haskell, New Jersey. The New Jersey Department of Health has prohibited the facility from admitting any new patients until the outbreak has been resolved.

A Virus Associated with Communal Living

The illness that has caused the outbreak is an adenovirus, which is a virus that infects the linings of the respiratory tract and other membranes. It is believed that this particular strain of adenovirus is one that flourishes in communal living environments. It is reported that a total of 25 patients at the New Jersey facility have been diagnosed with adenovirus, which manifests itself as mild to severe cold-like illness. Unfortunately, adenovirus can then cause other illnesses, such as bronchitis, diarrhea, and even pneumonia.

A Particularly Dangerous Environment

Most people can contract an adenovirus and recover fairly quickly, but any virus can be highly problematic for those with weakened immune systems or those who are already suffering from some other illnesses. This is why viral outbreaks can do so much harm in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and similar institutions – they are full of sick people with compromised immune systems.  

This is exactly what happened in New Jersey and why 9 children have died as a result of the outbreak. All of the children were already dependant on ventilators in order to breathe, conditions when a respiratory infection can be deadly. Adenovirus aside, any viral infection can be especially dangerous for someone who is recovering from surgery or suffering other major health issues.

What Went Wrong?

Because so many residents are already in poor health, health care facilities should take steps to prevent additional illnesses and be especially careful to avoid transmission of viruses. The New Jersey Department of Health and the CDC are investigating the outbreak in order to understand what caused it, but it has been reported that the facility had been cited with minor hand-washing deficiencies. Here are some of the ways that healthcare facilities can fail in their obligations to provide a sanitary environment for their patients:  

  • Lax standards for cleanliness of staff and personnel
  • Failure to properly sanitize equipment and materials
  • Poor custodial sanitation – trash removal, laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, and sanitizing various surfaces
  • Failure to properly identify potential viral outbreaks and promptly take corrective measures
  • Failure to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of viral outbreaks

We don’t yet know whether the New Jersey facility was negligent and therefore responsible for the deaths of those children, but it is a question worth asking – we trust these facilities to care for us and our loved ones, and they should be held accountable when their negligence results in serious illness and especially death.  

Contact an Atlanta Nursing Home Injury and Illness Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has suffered serious illness while in a healthcare facility, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd can evaluate your claim and help you understand your options. If you’d like a free consultation, contact us by phone at 404-255-6677 or email us via our online contact form.

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