You go to a hospital to get better, or at least to receive what medical assistance as may be possible. What you do not expect is for the hospital to make you worse, to give you a new disease. This is exactly what has allegedly happened to patients at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. At least 20 people have been confirmed as testing positive for Hepatitis C. During their stay at Exeter they were possibly infected by contaminated needles and equipment. Many people who were hospital residents during the time when the infection was present are currently being tested with their results pending. The government has lent its assistance to the matter and designated two nearby healthcare facilities as alternative testing sites to expedite the process.
The source of the Hep C outbreak has likely been traced to a hospital employee. This person used intravenous drugs while on the job and possibly contaminated syringes that were later used on patients. A class action lawsuit has been filed against Exeter Hospital for their negligence in allegedly allowing this employee to cause the outbreak. It is a hospital’s responsibility to ensure that proper safety procedures are put in place to prevent events like this from occurring. As of now, there are 44 affected people as part of the lawsuit, but this number could easily grow as more than 1,000 were possibly at risk from exposure.
Healthcare facilities, such as Exeter Hospital, are responsible to their patients; they are required to provide a safe environment, free of threats and harm, to those under their care. There must be an adequate number of trained staff, who are properly supervised and monitored, to prevent the type of damage that allegedly occurred at Exeter. Unfortunately, it is very common, especially in skilled nursing facilities, for there not to be enough qualified care givers. Understaffing can be very dangerous and is a contravention of patients’ rights statutes. Studies have shown that understaffed facilities are more likely to have occurrences of harmful, and even fatal, mistakes by care personnel. Patient quality of life is also adversely affected.
Pressure sores are a common side effect of an understaffed and under-educated facility. Bedsores can be avoided by relieving stress on sensitive areas and maintaining skin health through diet and exercise. Unfortunately, many residents in skilled nursing homes are malnourished, which has a marked negative impact on their risk factor for contracting pressure ulcers and other diseases. Nursing home patients who are malnourished or dehydrated are much more susceptible to infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile, and influenza. When healthcare facilities provide ample nursing staff to maintain and monitor each patient’s health and status, it is much easier to prevent the spread and outbreak of these harmful diseases. Care providers should be educated in the identification and care of common infections and pressure sores.
If you are worried that your loved one has been adversely affected because of inadequate staffing, or is being put at risk for injury, please contact us. Here at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, we believe that no one should have to suffer because a nursing home refuses to provide them with a safe and adequately staffed environment. We want to help ensure that your loved one receives the care that he or she is entitled to.