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Pneumonia in the Elderly

Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. For those who are young and healthy, pneumonia usually goes away with a simple round of antibiotics. For some people, however, pneumonia can be quite serious and may even be life threatening. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems could be particularly at risk for complications due to pneumonia. Because of their increased vulnerability, the elderly in nursing homes may be more prone to getting a severe bout of the illness.

Pneumonia in Nursing Homes

The elderly are more prone to pneumonia than younger people. Those who are bedridden and less mobile are at a heightened risk because of their sedentary life. For those with lowered immune systems and people with other illnesses, pneumonia can be a serious complication that they may acquire. Pneumonia must be treated quickly and aggressively for the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, nursing home staff does not always notice when a patient has the initial stages of the illness.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pneumonia

The signs of pneumonia can be similar to other illnesses so it can be overlooked. Some of the most common signs of pneumonia include a fever, cough, difficulty or labored breathing, wheezing, fatigue, and chest pain. In the elderly, pneumonia can worsen very quickly so it is essential to get medical treatment as soon as possible. When the nursing home staff fails to notice pneumonia it can progress and complications can result. When a nursing home fails to get medical care for someone with pneumonia the outcome may be deadly.

Pneumonia May Lead to Complications

One of the most common concerns for those diagnosed with pneumonia is the risk for complications, especially in older patients. Fluid in the lungs cannot be adequately expelled so the liquid begins to accumulate. When the fluid continues to collect the infection worsens. The patient becomes even less able to breathe properly and therefore less oxygen is getting to the body’s organs.

Medical Care is Necessary

Pneumonia is generally treated with antibiotics. For those in the later stages of pneumonia, antibiotics may not work and the patient’s condition may deteriorate despite treatment. For this reason it is necessary to seek medical care immediately. Nursing home staff must be trained to recognize the beginning signs of pneumonia and ensure that the resident is evaluated by a physician as soon as possible. When the staff is not properly trained or inadequately prepared to recognize the symptoms of pneumonia and a patient becomes seriously ill as a result, the nursing home may be neglectful.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect consists of not only doing something wrong, but also failing to do something that should be done. In the case of pneumonia, the nursing home should not hesitate to seek medical attention for any patient who exhibits signs of pneumonia. The sooner the illness is detected the higher the potential for successful treatment. Sadly, pneumonia is often an illness that may not be noticed by uncaring staff until it is too late. Those who are victims of nursing home neglect or their families may be entitled to compensation.

Contact the skilled nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti to request a consultation.

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