As we get older, we learn to appreciate the simple things in life, like spending time with friends and family, reading a good book, and laying down to sleep in a bed with freshly washed sheets. Indeed, when you are searching for a nursing home, you will notice that they often advertise that you will get to enjoy these comforts and more once you move in.
Unfortunately, the reality for many seniors is very different – especially when it comes to bed linens. Studies have found that the linens which are delivered to healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes are often covered in fungi and bacteria. In fact, data published in Clinical Infectious Diseases indicated that 75 percent of sampled healthcare linens did not meet the hygienically clean standard for the Mucorales fungus.
So, what exactly does all of this information mean for the seniors who sleep on these sheets each night? In short, it means vulnerability. Since human bodies become more susceptible to infection and other health issues as they age, the presence of potentially dangerous organisms in bed linens can massively increase the risk of illness or death to seniors.
What is the Mucorales Fungus?
The Mucorales fungus is especially dangerous. When a body becomes infected with this microorganism, it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as Mucormycosis.
The symptoms of this illness include
- black oral lesions,
- chest pain,
- shortness of breath,
- one-sided facial swelling, and
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies it as a “life-threatening infection” with a “mortality rate of 54 percent.”
Of course, Mucorales is certainly not the only microorganism that likes to live on nursing home bed linens. Potentially deadly microorganisms such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) thrive on healthcare linens.
It is the duty of the nursing home to ensure that every sheet, blanket, and pillowcase under its roof is safe for its residents to use. If they fail to do so and you or one of your loved ones develops a health issue as a result, you are well within your rights to seek legal recourse.
Without a doubt, the most common legal step to take when a nursing home has caused an illness or infection is to file an elder abuse lawsuit. This can be a somewhat complex and lengthy process, so you will almost certainly want to hire a lawyer to help you through the necessary steps.
In general, these steps include:
If you wish to make a case against the nursing home, you will need to prove that their negligence was the cause of the health issue. To do this, you should try to gather witness statements, photographs, lab reports, and medical records.
It is often best to begin searching for these things before you formally file suit to ensure that they are not destroyed or discarded. The more evidence you and your lawyer can put together, the stronger your case will be.
Filing suit against a nursing home requires quite a bit of paperwork, but your lawyer will be able to help you with all of it. The specifics of your case will determine the exact documents you need to fill out.
Generally speaking, though, most lawsuit paperwork will ask you about your time in the nursing home, the negligence you believe occurred, and how it has impacted your life – or the life of your loved one.
Once you have put together your evidence and formally begun your case, your attorney will be able to enter into negotiations with the nursing home's attorney. During these negotiations, both parties will try to come to a settlement figure that is fair to both sides. The exact size of the settlement will depend on factors such as the severity of the negligence, the outcome of the illness, and the strength of the evidence.
If all attempts to reach a settlement are unsuccessful, you and your legal team will need to take your case to a court. There, your lawyer will present your case to a judge or jury who will determine how much compensation you or your loved one should receive for the nursing home's negligence. Depending on the specifics of your case, it may take anywhere from one to three years to reach trial.
The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman Can Help
The team of experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman has been helping clients fight back against nursing home abuse and negligence for more than 50 years. Our lawyers believe that seniors should always be treated with care, respect, and dignity.
If you or your family member has fallen ill due to nursing home negligence, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (707) 575-7141. One of our helpful representatives will be happy to discuss your case and arrange a consultation with a member of the legal team.