Risk for Infection, Including Pneumonia and Legionnaires’ Disease, in the Veterans’ Nursing Home Setting
When the difficult decision is made to put a loved one into a nursing home, it is expected by the family that the health and safety of their family member be made a top priority.
Included with our loved ones’ health is the duty to keep them from suffering from preventable infections. One such preventable infection that has been widely discussed as of lately is Legionnaires’ Disease, a severe form of pneumonia, or inflammation of the lungs. Unlike other infections, Legionnaires’ Disease cannot be spread from person to person contact, but instead is acquired by inhaling microscopic water droplets, such as those found in ventilation/air condition units, mist sprayers, or other plumbing systems.
Legionnaires’ disease recently became noteworthy due to an outbreak that occurred at the State of Illinois owned, Veterans Home in Quincy, Illinois in 2015, leading to the deaths of several residents. Further, as recently as January 2019, another Veteran, a resident of the Manteno Veterans’ Home, was diagnosed with the life-threatening infection.
In response to the outbreak and the resulting deaths, the Illinois Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 2481 which provides grieving families recourse via lawsuits in amounts up to $2 million, as opposed to the inadequate previous limit of $100,000. This new bill applies retroactively, allowing even victims of the 2015 outbreak, and anyone since then, to have access to justice accordingly.
Elderly individuals, especially those in senior facilities, face an increased risk of developing infections. However, many infections are preventable if proper measures are taken, or treatable if symptoms are recognized and addressed promptly.
If your family member is in a senior facility and develops an infection such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTIs), MRSA, sepsis, E. coli, Legionnaires’ disease, or others, it is important that they receive immediate medical attention. Such infections can be life-threatening.
Ultimately, you have the right to participate in the care and treatment of your loved one. If you have concerns, be sure to express them to not only the staff but also to the Director of Nursing or even the Administrator. Then, be sure to follow up to ensure that your concerns were addressed. Finally, if necessary, consult with an Attorney about your concerns.
The material and information contained on these pages and on any pages linked from these pages are intended to provide general information only and not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction before relying upon any of the information presented here.
Edward M. Farmer is a U.S. Army veteran and an experienced VA attorney in DuPage County Illinois. The majority of his career has been dedicated to assisting veterans with legal issues nationwide. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 700-4174.