Nursing home abuse

Flu Season In Nursing Homes

December 20, 2018 by Carrie Capouellez
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

The flu is a fairly common sickness that affects countless people each year. As each flu season approaches, it seems we are inundated with ads reminding us to get a flu shot and to be aware of those who may be sick with the flu. During this time of year, we also see recommendations to look out for those who might be more susceptible to falling ill. This often includes young children, the elderly, and those who have compromised immune systems and can more easily catch the flu. However, one can only imagine what can happen when the elderly become sick inside nursing homes and care facilities where people with compromised immune systems surround them.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) during the 2017-2018 flu season, an estimated 80,000 Americans died and 900,000 were hospitalized, making last year one of the deadliest flu seasons our country has ever seen. Now, a new study from Brown University School of Public Health reports that a more immunogenic vaccine, such as the adjuvant trivalent influenza vaccine, can improve clinical outcomes in nursing home patients when compared to a non-adjuvant trivalent influenza vaccine. An adjuvant is an ingredient present in a vaccine that helps to promote a better immune response.

Elderly and the Flu

Those who are older, with weaker immune systems, may also have a lower protective immune response after flu vaccination as compared to younger, healthier people.

  • Around 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older.
  • Between 54 and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among those 65 years and older.
  • Newer flu vaccines made specifically for people aged 65 or older attempt to improve the immune response and protection provided by flu vaccination in this age group.

Flu Complications Can Turn Fatal

Influenza is one of the leading infections preventable by vaccine in nursing homes; however, it’s not always the flu that causes the tragic deaths of residents. Fatal issues affect those who are 65 and older with severe underlying illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, triggering one of these three common flu-related illnesses:

  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection that causes the small air sacs of the lungs to fill with fluid or pus. This can be the most common route to death for flu victims.
  • Sepsis: Sepsis is a serious medical condition characterized by inflammation spread throughout the entire body. Sepsis happens as a result of a severe infection. According to health officials, four types of infections are often linked with sepsis, including: lungs (pneumonia), kidney (urinary tract infection), skin, and gut. Unfortunately, there is no single symptom of sepsis.
  • Heart attack: Chances of a heart attack can be increased six-fold during the first seven days after a flu infection.

The CDC suggests all nursing homes and elder care facilities have a flu care strategy in place, as well as a flu outbreak prevention plan. If a plan is ultimately foiled due to lack of staffing or neglect of addressing flu-related complications, families can hold the facilities accountable for any injuries caused.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

If you suspect your loved one is showing warning signs of nursing home neglect, retain the professional services of the nursing home attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP. Time limitations apply to your potential claims, so contact us today.



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