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How Is Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Handling Flu Season?

Steinberg flu season

University of Michigan Poll Says Nursing Homes Lack Flu Prevention Plans

A new poll sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, suggests that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should be doing more to keep their staff and patients safe from influenza, more commonly referred to as the flu. This season, flu cases of all strains have spread to 46 states including right here in Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Michigan public health officials say reports of the flu are expected to quickly rise, especially in the northern area of the state. State officials are also preparing for an increase in hospitalizations, and possibly even death in the elderly. Many patients are carrying a damaging type of influenza virus, called H3N2, that is linked to more severe symptoms and cases. Vaccines have proven to be less effective against this type of virus than other flu viruses so extra precautions must be made to protect yourself and loved ones.

If you have a loved one living in a Michigan nursing home or assisted living facility, take special care of them during the flu season. These healthcare settings lag behind hospitals in providing safe systems of care, leaving your loved ones more susceptible to the spread of influenza and secondary related-health conditions. 

Nursing Home Staff May Not Be Required to Vaccinate

Michigan’s long-term care facilities don’t have to disclose flu vaccination policies and influenza prevention practices to their patients, visitors and prospective patients. That shouldn’t deter you from asking about them though. When you visit a nursing home to see your loved one or are simply trying to decide if it is the right place for them, don’t be afraid to ask these flu related questions.

  1. Is the flu vaccine required for all residents and staff?
  2. Has anyone, residents or staff, been diagnosed with the flu this year?
  3. Is there any type of hygiene and sickness etiquette taught to staff, residents, or visitors during flu season?
  4. Will (and when) will I be notified if my loved one has flu-like symptoms?
  5. What are your infection control precautions?
  6. Do you have a flu outbreak prevention plan? Can I see it?
  7. Who is responsible for carrying out this plan?

The U-M poll referenced earlier concluded that 70 percent of respondents said that if they knew a nursing home’s staff wasn’t vaccinated, they would be less likely to choose it for themselves or loved ones. If you are concerned about the long-term care facility your loved one resides in, take extra precaution in asking and finding answers to these questions.

Unmanaged Influenza Can Cause Greater Health Risks or Death

Although you can’t hold a nursing home liable for your loved one coming in contact with influenza, other serious illnesses can result when the person’s health is not managed properly. Nursing home negligence happens and when it does, family members should hold health care workers and organizations responsible for a loved one’s injury or death that occurred while under their care. 

Michigan Nursing Home and Medical Malpractice Lawyers

With offices throughout Michigan, the team at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. is here to listen to your nursing home concerns and fight to ensure you and your family receives justice. Please contact us at 1-800-LEE-FREE for a free phone consultation.