Common Viruses a Deadly Threat at Nursing Homes
Common viruses pose a serious threat in nursing homes, often sabotaging standard infection control measures, a new case study suggests. “Long-term care facilities have unique challenges. Infection-control policies from acute care hospitals cannot simply be mirrored in this setting and expected to work,” said study lead author Dr. Schaefer Spires. The report details a 16-day outbreak of two viruses — respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (HMPV) — that swept through a long-term dementia ward in Tennessee. Nearly three-quarters of the patients became sick and five died. According to the report, 30 of 41 patients contracted at least one of the viruses and 15 were hospitalized. The outbreak led the facility to implement new protocols for protecting these vulnerable patients. These included active screening; more efficient separation of ill and healthy residents during cold and flu season; improved hand hygiene; use of personal protective equipment by staff; and faster respiratory viral testing. But many of the health care providers also became sick, hindering efforts to separate the sick from the healthy, the report said. Dementia prevented many patients from reporting their symptoms, which delayed identification of new cases, Spires said. The study was published Jan. 9 in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.