Patients go to hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities to heal, but they may be putting themselves at risk in ways they do not anticipate. Preventable diseases such as Legionnaires’ disease can be spread easily in hospitals and nursing homes, infecting patients who are already vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report highlighting the danger of Legionnaires’ disease and the need for stricter safety standards for hospital water systems.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report examined data from cases of Legionnaires’ disease in 2015 where 6,079 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in the United States in 2015. The CDC report focused on 2,809 reported in 20 states and New York City, of which 553 appeared to be or were associated with health care facilities. Health care facility contamination was confirmed as a factor in 85 cases, including 68 patients in long-term care facilities and 15 patients in hospitals.
Legionnaires’ Caused by Bacteria in Water Systems
Legionnaires’ is a deadly form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, which can spread in water storage tanks or pipes if they are not properly maintained. Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who are elderly or suffering from other ailments are more susceptible to infection because their immune systems are compromised. Of the cases examined by the CDC, 66 resulted in fatalities.
The number of infections related to health care facilities surprised researchers. Legionnaires’ disease is preventable if the proper steps are taken to prevent bacterial growth in showers, sinks, bathtubs, and on medical equipment that require water. The CDC report showed an urgent need for better maintenance of water-management systems to prevent an outbreak.
Hospitals Responsible for Preventing Avoidable Illnesses
A representative for the American Hospital Association issued a response to the study, saying that hospitals across the country are doing their best to prevent the spread of illnesses such as Legionnaires’ disease. These efforts include developing and maintaining effective water systems that stem the spread of bacteria. As the CDC report demonstrates, however, there is still a long way to go to protect vulnerable patients. Hospitals and nursing homes that fail to eliminate bacteria lurking in their water-management systems are putting their patients at risk of a severe and fatal disease.
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP Advocate for Victims of Legionnaires’ Disease If you or a loved one is suffering from a hospital-acquired illness, call the New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine if medical negligence caused your illness and hold the negligent parties accountable. With offices conveniently located in Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, we help victims of medical malpractice throughout New Jersey. Call us today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online for a free consultation.