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Lawsuit Alleges Negligence in Nursing Home Hepatitis C Outbreak

A hepatitis C outbreak at a nursing home last year left 44 residents infected with the potentially fatal illness. Now, a lawsuit has been filed by two of those patients, seeking class action status.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North DakotaGuttormson v. Manor Care of Minot ND, LLC, the complaint alleges negligence and consumer fraud.

Nursing home abuse lawyers in Broward note while the state department of health sought the exact source of the infection, it was only able to narrow it down to one of two: Either blood draw services conducted by a third-party health care provider or nail care services provided by the nursing home itself. Health care officials said they did not note any obvious breaches of care that would explain the transmission of the infection, but the cases are almost certainly connected.

None of the 44 residents who contracted the disease had it before receiving care at the nursing home, and all were deemed to have acute infections, meaning transmission had occurred recently. Additionally, the strain of the virus was genetically linked in all cases.

The spread of infectious disease is unfortunately common in nursing home settings. A 2010 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that the most common type of infections in these settings are pneumonia, urinary tract infections and skin and soft-tissue infections. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in older adults, resulting in nearly half of all infectious disease-related hospitalizations and deaths among older residents.

These conditions are preventable with the proper sanitary controls. Failure in nursing homes to adopt and adhere to appropriate sanitation guidelines result in higher rates of infection.

In the hepatitis C outbreak, median age of the infected patients is 84, though they ranged from 38 to 100. All reportedly have a complex health care history, which had included long-term, in-patient care.

Hepatitis C is a type of viral infection that can result in severe liver disease, particularly if it is not treated or if the host is in poor health. Blood-to-blood contact is the primary mode of transmission for the virus, and it can’t be passed from coughing, sneezing, kissing, hugging or through food or water.

This case represents the second-largest Hepatitis C outbreak on record, according to the lawsuit. The largest was an outbreak associated with a cancer treatment center in Nebraska, wherein nearly 100 people were infected.

For elderly victims, the negative impact of the disease is likely to be greater, progression swifter.

The plaintiffs allege the defendants failed in promises to provide superior care to patients, and their failure to follow even basic sanitary practices has resulted in severe, lifelong consequences for their patients.

All of those infected are now dealing with chronic health problems related to the infection, one plaintiff attorney was quoted as saying. Symptoms of the disease include fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, dark urine or jaundice, abdominal discomfort or nausea.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Guttormson v. Manor Care of Minot ND, LLC, April 2, 2014, U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Legislation Would Narrow Defendant List, April 1, 2014, Hollywood Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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