Seniors in nursing home are in a fragile state of health. Sometimes nursing home providers will use that to argue that subsequent injuries or illness that residents contract are expected and unpreventable. In most cases that is nothing more than an excuse. The truth is that the resident’s medical vulnerabilities are the very reason why they are in the home to begin with, and the reason why care providers need to be incredibly vigilant about controlling all of the risk factors to allow the senior to remain in as good a condition as possible.
When proper care is not provided, it may be a sign of nursing home neglect, and residents and their families may be able to seek legal accountability. In many cases, the root neglect is in the action (or inaction) of care providers--like failing to monitor a change in condition or not providing supervision which leads to a fall. In other cases, the underlying issue is more complex, perhaps involving use of defective or dangerous products in resident care.
Dangerous Mattress Covers
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a safety alert on some products that may be used in nursing homes, leading to illness and death: infection-riddled mattress covers.
The alert was directed at long-term care providers, nurses, doctors, aides, and others who have control over the care setting of medical patients and skilled long-term care residents. The Administration explained that they wanted to warn these individuals that “damaged or worn covers for medical bed mattresses can allow blood and body fluids to penetrate medical bed mattresses, posing a risk of infection to patients.”
As with so many medical objects, the mattress covers themselves are intended as a safety tool--to prevent substances and fluids from seeping into the core of the mattress. Yet over the past few years, the FDA has received hundreds of reports where the mattress covers failed in that role, allowing infected substances from making their way onto the mattress. This was usually caused by tears in the cover, a thinning of the material or improper use, with exposed portions or opening near the zipper.
All of this exposing the individual using the bed, like nursing home residents, to infection risk because of coming into contact with the body fluids of another. Considering seniors inherent vulnerability, those subsequent infections can be life-threatening. Because this risk is known, it is critical for caregivers to ensure these cover defects are caught and senior residents are not placed in risk situations.
The FDA safety alert includes a list of recommendations that caregivers can use to ensure that the covers do not pose a risk. In addition, the Administration includes contact information where others can report concerns and problems with mattress cover use.
Chicago Nursing Home Neglect
Providing inadequate care to local nursing home residents should never be tolerated. However, our neglect attorneys know that it happens every day in Chicago and throughout state of Illinois. The problems can range in scope from outright abuse to sloppy caregiving--like the use of defective mattress covers. If you suspect such care at a nearby facility, please don’t stay silent. Stand up and demand accountability.
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