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Pneumonia deaths high because of poor nursing home plumbing

A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that both hospitals and nursing homes can do a lot more than they're currently doing to reduce patient deaths. More specifically, this study highlights how they can do more to decontaminate their water water systems and reduce cases of Legionnaires' disease, a deadly form of pneumonia.

In the case of Legonnaires' disease, it is caused by the growth of a type of bacteria called Legionella. It has been shown to particularly multiply at high rates within pipes or water storage tanks.

While an individual with a properly functioning immune system can generally fight off this potentially deadly type of bacteria, those who have suppressed immune systems or who are elderly cannot. These individuals are most susceptible to the dangers of Legionella in the shower, sink, and when they come in contact with medical equipment that's been exposed to water.

The CDC argues that facilities that are proactive in managing their water systems have been shown to be able to altogether prevent the occurrence of this disease.

In their study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC researchers highlight how they analyzed more than 2,800 distinct cases of Legionnaires' that were diagnosed in 2015 in both New York City and 20 different states. Of those, 553 were found to have occurred in either medical centers or nursing homes.

As researchers dug further into the different cases, they were able to definitively blame the nursing or health care facility for the outbreak in 85 of those cases. At least 80 percent of those happened in nursing homes and 18 percent in hospitals. Of the overall number of patients diagnosed with the disease, 66 patients ultimately succumbed to the illness.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) director of quality and patient safety claims that they're proactively working with their member hospitals to deploy a water management programs. They expect this approach to greatly reduce the incidence rate of Legionnaires' cases. It's unclear whether nursing homes have that same goal in mind.

If you suspect that that an unclean environment may have played a role in causing your loved one's declining health, then you should discuss your case with a Tucson nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.

Source: KNAU, "Plumbing in hospitals and nursing homes can spread legionnaires' disease," Rob Stein, June 06, 2017

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