Deadly, Drug-resistant Germs Spreading in Nursing Homes

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on September 13, 2019 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on April 25, 2024

Elderly patient in wheelchair nursing homeCandida auris, a deadly fungus, is one of many drug-resistant germs spreading in nursing homes around the country. Since this highly contagious germ first arrived in the United States four years ago, it has infected as many as 796 patients, with approximately 1,540 more being carriers. About half of those infected who also were exhibiting symptoms died within 90 days.

Most of the patients known to be infected with the fungus are in New York, Chicago and New Jersey. Palm Gardens Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn has at least 38 patients infected with Candida auris. At least another 396 residents in New York are infected and as many as 496 are carriers who are not yet symptomatic.  

Unfortunately, drug-resistant germs were born, at least in part, out of a long history of overusing antibiotics. Trying to contain these virulent germs within a population that often requires multiple antibiotics to treat existing medical conditions, like residents who are ventilator-dependent, may actually be making things worse.

Why This Fungus is on the Rise

A recent study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the colonization of drug-resistant germs is especially prevalent and difficult to control in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Some of the factors that may be contributing to the spread of these infections may include:

  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Understaffing
  • Substandard hygiene amongst staff and residents
  • Failure of staff to routinely follow basic health care protocols
  • Germs that get recycled from infected patients to relatives, staff and other residents
  • In-depth knowledge about how this virus is spread is still limited
  • Failure to post warning signs outside the rooms of patients infected with the fungus

Global Impact

Drug-resistant germs are on the rise and making a global impact, and, unfortunately, this is not a problem with a simple solution. From Britain and Italy to Israel and Japan, independent studies are showing that elderly residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases, such as Candida auris.

NY Department of Health Response

The New York health department responded to the ongoing battle to control Candida auris and other infectious diseases with a commitment to the ongoing protection of the health and well-being of residents in long-term care facilities.

According to a statement in the New York Times, “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.”

DOH is committing to:

  • Extensive training
  • Additional education about necessary infection control policies and procedures

U.S. Nursing Home Ratings

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services voiced confidence in the staffing ratios and overall health of nursing homes, as many as 1,400 nursing homes across the country received substandard one-star ratings in 2018 (out of a possible score of five stars, with five being the highest possible score).

When to Contact an Attorney

If you suspect your loved one is receiving sub-standard health care in his or her long-term care facility, contact a trusted Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyer to find out how we may be able to help.

Call the law offices of PKSD to schedule your free consultation at 414-333-3333 .

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