The Dangers of Hepatitis in Nursing Homes

The Dangers of Hepatitis in Nursing Homes

Residents of nursing homes face many unique challenges. This is a vulnerable population, particularly in regards to health concerns. Caregivers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities have a duty to provide their residents with compassionate care, and this includes reducing the chances of spreading dangerous diseases within these facilities. It is widely understood that the leading cause of deaths and severe health complications in nursing homes is infection.

Unfortunately, hepatitis A infection rates have skyrocketed in nursing homes over the past five years; a recent study by the Columbia University School of Nursing has indicated a nearly 50% increase in this viral infection. Caregivers and the facilities that provide care must protect their patients from dangerous diseases as well as from claims of negligence. Insurance for nursing homes can protect the facility’s financial assets from loss in negligence claims.

Hepatitis Infections in Nursing Homes

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease caused by a virus. The virus is often spread through contaminated food or water. While the disease is self-limiting in most healthy patients, resolving within two to three months, it can create devastating effects in at-risk populations, such as residents of nursing homes. In smaller facilities, the virus can spread quickly; for populations aged 50 and over, death from acute liver failure occurs at a rate of approximately 2% of infected patients. Viral hepatitis A can be prevented with vaccinations. In nursing home and other long-term care facilities, a robust vaccination program works to prevent the transmission and spread of this potentially fatal disease.

In addition to vaccinations, nursing homes with strong infection control protocols are the key to protecting residents from the spread of infectious diseases. Some of these protocols include:

  • Food preparation practices adhering to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards.
  • Protocols that limit catheterization of patients
  • Isolation rooms for infected patients
  • Caregiver access to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns, gloves, and masks
  • Readily-available access to hand sanitizers

Insurance for Nursing Homes

According to studies published by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 20 million U.S. citizens rely on nursing homes and assisted living facilities for care, and the number is expected to rise exponentially by 2050. With this huge population, the risks associated with the spread of disease in these facilities can lead to claims of neglect or negligence on the part of caregivers.

Nursing home insurance is a common way that care facilities can protect their financial assets and staff along with their patients. This specialized form of insurance is part of a comprehensive risk management system, and works in concert with care protocols like infection control and compassionate care guidelines to ensure patient safety. Insurance for nursing homes typically includes professional and general liability coverage. Many insurance policies also provide business interruption insurance and excess liability, especially for facilities with high-risk practice and populations. In cases where infectious diseases are transmitted to patients in a care facility, patients and their families may seek legal remedies. A negligence claim against a nursing home/care facility can result in millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements, potentially impacting the future of the facility in taking care of its patients. Nursing home insurance helps to cover the costs associated with litigation and settlement payments. For a strong risk management program, insurance for nursing homes is a critical component, ensuring continued care for patients.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.