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Study Finds Norovirus Outbreaks Place Nursing Home Residents at Increased Risk in Illinois and Nationwide

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine reportedly found that nursing home residents were much more likely to be hospitalized or die during a norovirus outbreak. The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared patient hospitalization and death rates during confirmed outbreak periods versus non-outbreak periods between January 2009 and December 2010 at 308 certified skilled nursing homes in three states. The data used was reportedly collected from the National Outbreak Reporting System maintained by the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, nursing home resident deaths were verified through the federal Medicare Minimum Data Set.

According to the study, at least 1,000 gastroenteritis outbreaks are identified in nursing homes every year in the United States. In addition, norovirus is reportedly the suspected cause in 86 percent of confirmed outbreaks. Of the 407 norovirus outbreaks analyzed by researchers, a long-term care resident was hospitalized in 29 percent of cases and died during seven percent of the outbreaks. In addition, more than 2,500 hospitalizations and almost 1,100 nursing home resident deaths allegedly occurred during a confirmed norovirus outbreak during the time period examined by researchers.

The norovirus outbreaks analyzed by researchers lasted an average of 13 days. Although hospitalizations reportedly increased during the first two weeks of an outbreak, resident deaths spiked during the initial week. After two weeks, the study authors found that hospitalization and death rates returned to previous levels. Interestingly, the study reports that skilled nursing facilities with a higher proportion of daily registered nurse hours per resident did not exhibit an increase in resident deaths during a norovirus outbreak. Unfortunately, the ratio of daily registered nurse hours did not appear to have an effect on resident hospitalization rates during such an outbreak. Study authors concluded that infection control strategies and other measures designed to prevent the spread of illness should be implemented at all long-term care facilities in an effort to protect the health and well-being of the approximately 3.3 million nursing home residents nationwide.

Because residents normally live in close proximity to one another, communicable diseases often spread easily in nursing homes. Long-term care facility employees are required to take precautionary measures to control the spread of disease in Illinois nursing homes. Proper sanitation is vital to the health of nursing home residents in Illinois and elsewhere. Unfortunately, many nursing home workers fail to use simple sanitation techniques such as washing their hands between each patient. This simple omission constitutes negligence on the part of skilled nursing facility staff. In addition, all nursing home facilities in Illinois are required to designate an infection prevention and control professional to develop and implement policies aimed at reducing and controlling both infections and communicable diseases. If your friend or family member died from a preventable disease he or she contracted as a result of nursing home caregiver negligence, you should speak with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney as soon as possible.

If your loved one was injured by the actions of an Illinois nursing home employee, do not hesitate to call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596. Our hardworking and dedicated Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available every day of the week to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled friends and family members. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Illinois lawyer, please feel free to contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.

More Blogs:

Former Warrenville Assisted-Living Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing From Disabled Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 27, 2012
Chicago Doctor Sued Over Anti-Psychotic Drug Use in Nursing Home Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 21, 2012
Additional Resources:

Norovirus Outbreaks in Nursing Homes Associated With Increase in Hospitalizations, Risk of Death,

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