A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found superbugs like MRSA are present in alarming rates in nursing homes and elder care facilities. The findings are concerning for many reasons, including the fact that these illnesses are difficult to cure and the bugs are striking some of the weakest members of the population: the elderly.
A supporting report by USA Today found that some of the most deadly superbugs are found only in hospitals and nursing homes. Those who place their loved ones in the care of an elder facility or nursing home expect their loved ones to be safe and well cared for. Facilities that fail to provide a clean, safe environment may be guilty of committing nursing home abuse.
Response from nursing homes
Some businesses running nursing homes are taking note of these dangers by changing practices. Bloomberg recently reported how one large business in the United States, Emeritus Corp., has changed cleaning guidelines in an attempt to reduce the risk of spreading these illnesses. Changes include handling all linens as if they were infectious.
Nursing homes and Massachusetts state law
Although it is promising that a number of nursing homes are taking these findings seriously and making changes, others are not. If a nursing home is negligent in the maintenance of the premise and a resident becomes ill as a result, the nursing home owner may be liable for the injuries under both state and federal law.
The 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA '87) is a federal law that applies to any nursing home facility receiving funding through Medicare or Medicaid. This law essentially requires all qualifying facilities to provide care that either maintains or enhances a resident's quality of life.
Additional regulations are issued at the state level by Massachusetts' Department of Public Health and the Attorney General. The attorney general has issued regulations designed to supplement existing laws addressing the health and well-being of residents. Most notably, state law requires specific treatment of linens and any resident's personal laundry that may be infectious. The law also extends to require sufficient housekeeping to ensure the facility is clean and sanitary.
Establishing a claim
Establishing that a resident's illness was the result of a poorly maintained facility can be difficult. If you or a loved one believes that the illness was the fault of the facility, contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.