Medical malpractice cases can help prevent nursing home infections
Medical malpractice infection cases in nursing homes are a reasonable way to stop nursing homes from infecting their patients. If the government is not willing to issue fines for repeated violations of infection control practices in nursing homes then perhaps medical malpractice cases are a necessary evil.
The problem with nursing home infections
Controlling infections in nursing homes is not complicated. All staff have to do is follow simple procedures like—can you believe it—wash your hands. There are other simple methods to control infections in nursing homes—isolate contagious patients, do not cross-contaminate and simple cleaning would go a long way. Most infections are preventable and yet they persist.
Infections matters because they cost enormous amounts of money to treat, visit agony upon those infected and, ultimately, injure and kill patients.
- Infections cause about 25% of injuries to Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes according to a 2014 report by the Department of Health & Human Services.
- About 74% of nursing homes have been cited for lapses in infection control.
- Only about 10% of nursing home facilities are formally cited for infection violations.
- Of those cited only about 10% are fined.
- Health care infections may kill up to 380,000 people per year.
So let's have a brief recap. Nursing homes are infecting people, we know they are infecting people, we dispense citations for those infection protocol violations and yet we rarely issue fines for continued violation. Does this seem crazy to you—it does to me! I know that continuous violations in other industries are dealt with much more harshly. Perhaps we should consider actually fining those nursing homes if they continue to violate basic infection control principals.
MRSA is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph bacteria that can become life threatening. Once infected it is an infection that is particularly hard to treat and cure. The solution of course is to not become infected in the first place. More easily said than done you might object? Not really—let's wash our hands, let's isolate patients with MRSA, let's properly engage in infection control in nursing homes and perhaps even fine those nursing homes that do not take infection control seriously.
Nursing home infection medical malpractice cases
These types of cases are very difficult to prosecute as far as medical malpractice cases are concerned. The problems are two-fold. First you have to prove that the infection was contracted at the nursing home. This is hard to do because it is particular difficult to prove a negative. For example, how do I prove that you never had a cup of coffee 22 days ago? Furthermore, you have to prove that the nursing home did something wrong that caused the infection—again hard to do. Having said this these cases can be proved in a court of law but the costs are enormous. Plaintiffs are forced to hire experts in nursing, infectious disease, and oftentimes epidemiologists. All of these experts charge anywhere between $300 and $1,500 per hour—yes PER HOUR! In order to justify he case the person injured because of the infection must be severely injured or killed to justify the case.