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Are hospitals protecting patients from Candida auris infections?

Chicago medical malpractice attorney

A drug-resistant infection known as Candida auris has been spreading in hospitals and nursing homes since it was first identified four years ago.

Medical centers can reduce the risk for patients by following proper infection-control procedures. According to a report in The New York Times, however, some facilities are failing to protect people under their care, which may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim if the patient is harmed.

C. auris, a fatal fungus, is spreading in part in nursing homes as a result of the following:

  • Poor care
  • Inadequate levels of staffing
  • Nursing home employees who are not trained or ill-equipped to enforce infection control

Infection rates in Chicago hospitals and nursing homes

The Times article focuses on nursing homes, but the threat exists at hospitals as well. As of June 30, 2019, there have been over 700 confirmed cases of C. auris, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes in Chicago and other cities, according to report on the state of C. auris in the online journal Contagion Live.

In Chicago, about half of the patients who live on dedicated ventilator floors in skilled nursing facilities are infected with or harboring C. auris on their bodies, according to the Times.

Contagion Live reports that treatment options may be few for people diagnosed with C. auris. Because it is a highly contagious infection, health care authorities recommend that patients be placed in private rooms with contact precautions in place:

  • Adherence to hand hygiene
  • Use of gowns and gloves
  • Daily disinfectant of the room

Common contamination sites for the fungus include furniture, catheters, and medical equipment such as infusion pumps and temperature probes.

The New York Times article detailed serious lapses in nursing facilities. Some failed to use disposable gowns or latex gloves or did not post warning signs outside rooms of patients who were known to be carrying the infection.

The New York State Department of Health noted that one facility did not have hand sanitizers present.

What to do to avoid C. auris in hospitals and nursing homes

It’s important to ask questions, whether your loved one is living in a nursing home or you need hospital care. Find out if the facility is following proper infection-control protocol. Ask about staffing levels. Are the staff working at the facility trained in enforcing infection-control measures?

The Times report found that orderlies and nurses moved in and out of an infected patient’s room without wearing gloves, gowns and masks – essentially spreading C. auris from room to room. As one patient advocate said in the Times: “(Nursing homes) are caldrons that are constantly seeding and reseeding hospitals with increasingly dangerous bacteria. … You’ll never protect hospital patients until the nursing homes are forced to clean up.”

If you or a loved one acquired C. auris in a hospital or nursing home, you will need a knowledgeable legal advocate at your side. The medical care facility and its insurance company may deny any negligence. That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your side. The Deratany Firm can help you get the justice you deserve. Trust us to handle your claim. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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