The 86-year-old woman died in late October, just days after her son was told she had contracted the bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. At the time, the patient had reportedly been battling several bouts of what was though to be pneumonia. She was hospitalized several times, with the hospital finally releasing her back to the nursing home with regrets there was “nothing else they could do for her.”
Plaintiff, through his attorney, expressed outrage to staff writers at the Saratogian that so little attention is paid to this serious problem in nursing homes. If there were an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in schools or workplaces, there would be outrage. Instead, it seems nursing homes too often get a pass for failure to prevent the spread of infections disease and harmful bacteria. Too often, it probably goes unnoticed. But in this case, it was known and there were no repercussions, until plaintiff filed this lawsuit. There were four reported cases of the disease just at this one facility at the same time, including three patients and one staffer. The health department is conducting an investigation to determine the exact source of the outbreak.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Legionella is a type of bacterium that lives in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. However, it can become a health concern when it grows and then spreads to human water systems, such as hot tubs, plumbing systems, hot water tanks/ heaters, cooling towers or decorative fountains. It grows the best in warm water. Contaminated water is breathed in through small droplets in the air. It can also sometimes be spread when contaminated drinking water “goes down the wrong pipe,” and makes its way to the lungs rather than the digestive track. Continue reading →