Lead health officials seem to agree that this season’s flu is extremely dangerous and contagious, making aging care facilities, where people share spaces and depend on others for hygiene care, a prime location for the virus to spread. In New Zealand, seven elderly people died at a nursing home when a large-scale influenza outbreak swept through the facility and targeted 123 residents.
In addition, around 3,500 people die of the flu each year across the U.S., typically affecting the elderly and very young children most severely. The World Health Organization has confirmed nearly 12,000 flu-related hospitalizations from October 1 to January 20, with thousands more expected as the flu season peaks in the U.S. and around the globe. While safeguards and policies can’t always keep nursing home residents from becoming infected, they can help lessen the impact and reduce the risk of further flu-related sicknesses.
3 Most Common Flu Complications for Elderly Patients
It’s not always the flu virus that causes the tragic death of nursing home residents; it’s actually the complications that come after a person has been sick that account for 80 percent of their flu-related deaths. Complications mostly affect people who are 65 and older who have underlying illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease. There are three common flu-related complications in this group of elderly individuals.
- Pneumonia: An infection that causes the small air sacs of the lungs to fill with fluid or pus. Though this is the most common route to death, flu can be fatal for more unusual reasons.
- Sepsis: Sepsis is a serious medical condition which is characterized by inflammation that is spread throughout the entire body. Sepsis happens as a result of a severe infection. According to health officials, there are four types of infections that are often linked with sepsis including: lungs (pneumonia), kidney (urinary tract infection), skin and gut. There is no single symptom of sepsis.
- Heart attack: Chances of a heart attack are increased six-fold during the first seven days after a flu infection, a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found.
The CDC suggest all nursing home facilities have a flu care strategy and flu outbreak prevention plan. It remains important to remember the plan will only be carried out by honest, caring administrators and staff. If they do not, families could hold facilities accountable for flu-related deaths and related injuries to their loved ones.
Respected Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
Levin & Perconti has become one of the most widely-known and respected nursing home abuse and neglect law firms in Illinois, achieving multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements. If a loved one has sustained serious illness resulting from neglect or a fail in medical care at a nursing home, they may be entitled to compensation. There is a time limit to file a case in Illinois, so please contact us now for a free consultation with one of our skilled nursing home attorneys.