The Risk of Fungus-Related Nursing Home Wrongful Death - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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The Risk of Fungus-Related Nursing Home Wrongful Death On the Rise

Nursing homes across the nation have been under tremendous pressure since the COVID-19 pandemic and now, another health crisis seems to be on the horizon. The CDC announced in March 2023 that long-term care facilities are seeing the rates of the fatal fungus Candida auris increase dramatically, putting vulnerable patients at risk.

If your family member is in a nursing home or you’re currently considering their placement, here’s what you should know about C. auris infections and how to protect your loved one.

What is Candida Fungus?

Candida is a kind of yeast that naturally occurs on the body. Most of the time, it exists in small quantities and doesn’t cause any harm. But when the balance of these microorganisms is disrupted, overgrowth can occur. This results in a fungal infection.

There are different types of candida infections, some of which are worse than others. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Candida albicans. This common fungus is rarely dangerous and causes vaginal yeast infections, oral thrush, and other skin and nail infections.
  • Candida parapsilosis. This species causes sepsis in premature babies and people with weak immune systems.
  • Candida glabrata. This fungus can cause urinary tract infections and sepsis.
  • Candida auris. This fungus is a newly emerged species and is resistant to most drugs. It can infect open wounds and cause sepsis, usually in healthcare settings.

About Candida Auris

Candida auris was discovered in 2009 in the outside ear canal of a patient in Japan. Since then, it has spread to hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes across the globe.

This species is highly concerning for medical professionals because it can replicate quickly and resist most treatments. It can also look like many other fungal infections, so patients can get misdiagnosed and prescribed the wrong medication.

If it’s not treated, Candida auris can spread to the bloodstream, causing a system-wide infection that leads to organ failure and death.

Candida Auris Symptoms

The most common symptoms of this fungus are skin, ear, wound, and urinary tract infections. However, respiratory infections are also common. If your loved one is given antibiotics for an infection and they don’t get better, they may need a special test called a culture. This tells doctors if it’s a fungal infection and what kind.

If C. auris moves into the bloodstream, it can cause tiredness, fever, chills, and weakness. As the infection spreads rapidly throughout the circulatory system, organs begin to shut down beyond repair and the condition becomes fatal.

Who is at Risk?

Some patients are more likely to contract C. auris than others. This includes people who:

  • Have compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions
  • Are undergoing chemotherapy or have had an organ transplant
  • Share living spaces, like in dorms or retirement communities
  • Have recently had surgery or were treated with antibiotics
  • Have been intubated or were placed on life support
  • Have medical equipment that goes inside the body, like a feeding tube
  • Are healthcare workers in facilities at high risk for C. auris infections

Good sanitation practices are important in healthcare facilities to prevent the spread of infections. Family members should also wash their hands and avoid touching their face while visiting with their loved one in a nursing home.

Candida Treatment in Nursing Homes

Treatment for Candida infections depend on the type of fungus it is and how bad the infection is. Wound and skin infections can often be treated with antifungal cream that are applied right to the problem area.

Patients who have an ear, mouth, or throat infection may be able to take oral medication for several days or until symptoms resolve.

If a patient might have sepsis, they will need to be admitted to the hospital for close observation and administration of intravenous antifungal medication. Other medical support may be needed for kidney failure or cardiovascular problems, even after the infection goes away.

When to Call a Nursing Home Wrongful Death Lawyer

If your loved one has passed away in a nursing home due to a fungal infection, your family may be eligible for compensation if the facility was negligent in your loved one’s care. This can help cover things like funeral expenses and medical bills.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we can help. Our experienced and compassionate nursing home wrongful death lawyers are available now to guide you through the process of filing a claim. Contact us today at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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