Minot, North Dakota recently suffered the third-largest hepatitis C outbreak in American history, and most of the victims were residents of the ManorCare nursing home. Of the 51 hepatitis C cases linked to the outbreak in Minot, 47 were current or former nursing home residents. Now, the residents are seeking class-action status to move forward with their lawsuit against the nursing home.
Hepatitis C is a
serious viral infection that attacks the liver, causing extensive damage. It is passed through physical contact with contaminated blood, commonly via needles, so healthcare workers and patients are at a high risk of exposure. People born between 1945 and 1965 have the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection.
Particularly among the elderly, hepatitis C infection (HCV) can cause significant complications, including:
• Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver • Liver cancer • Liver failure • Death
Although there are some antiviral medications to treat HCV, they have serious side effects and require substantially patient commitment. Some side effects can include serious depression, flu-like symptoms, and loss of healthy blood cells.
In Minot, nursing home residents infected with HCV are in desperate need to medical services and relief. They are hoping that being granted class-action status will help them quickly and effectively receive the help they need.
North Dakota health investigators do not currently know where exactly the outbreak started – though they believe it may be connected to those who received podiatry, phlebotomy, and toenail care services at the ManorCare nursing home. ManorCare and its agent Trinity Hospital deny any role in the outbreak. Trinity provides many health services to ManorCare residents.
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According to the North Dakota Department of Health, the unsanitary practices at ManorCare in Minot contributed to the HCV outbreak. As stated, it is believed that poor foot, nail, and blood care have been linked to the transmission. The nursing home residents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that ManorCare failed to properly care for its residents and did not comply with state and federal nursing home regulations related to health and safety.
Infections are a major cause of death and disability in nursing homes because they are so common, and the setting encourages the spread of infections: residents are clustered in close quarters, activities often take place in groups, some residents are unable to follow basic hygiene, and caregivers may be inadequately trained or overworked.
The most common infections in nursing homes are respiratory, skin, soft tissue, urinary, and gastrointestinal. Among these include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, diabetic foot ulcers, bacteriuria, and diarrhea. Scabies, c. diff, e.coli, and salmonella are also common in nursing homes. Unfortunately, according to
several studies, infection rates are on the rise in American nursing homes.
Infections are a leading cause of death among the elderly, and may be an indicator of nursing home negligence. Overworked nursing home employees are unable to take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of disease and infection. Because they are so understaffed, workers are often forced to increase the use of urinary catheters, leave residents unassisted in the bathroom, and fail to routinely screen residents for infection. Nursing home workers and visitors should always have easy access to sanitizer or soap and water to clean hands.
Our team of
nursing home negligence lawyers has been fighting on behalf of sick and injured residents for over 30 years. If you have any suspicion that your loved one is being harmed in a nursing home, contact our firm immediately for a free legal consultation. We accept clients nationwide and can come to you wherever you are, so you can focus on your health and wellness.