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Cross-Contamination in Nursing Homes

Halting the spread of the COVID-19 virus in nursing homes in Miami, Homestead, Hollywood, and other South Florida communities relies on multiple techniques, including the use of personal protective equipment and social distancing. One of the factors which can cause an outbreak or the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes is cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination refers to unintended spread of the virus through surfaces and people. Cross-contamination can occur if someone touches a light switch, for example, and then another person touches the light switch. It can also occur if a nursing home staff member works with a patient who has COVID-19 and then works with a resident who doesn’t have the virus, unintentionally exposing the healthy person to COVID-19.

Preventing Cross-Contamination in South Florida Nursing Homes

Cross-contamination is entirely preventable, but it does require nursing homes to take a few additional steps:

  • Strict handwashing: Nursing homes can reduce spread of COVID-19 as well as many pathogens by practising strict handwashing protocols. Nurses and staff should wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds after working with a resident and when entering a resident’s room or when they’re about to interact with a resident. Hand sanitizer with an adequate alcohol level may also be used. Using gloves is not a substitute for handwashing.

  • Stricter hygiene measures: Using aerosol cleaning sprays and frequently wiping down and disinfecting common areas such as grab bars, door handles, light switches, and other shared surfaces is important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Minimizing contacts: Staff and nursing home residents should minimize contact. Where possible, staff and residents should stay at least 6 feet apart, and dining rooms may need to work at reduced capacity to allow for adequate spacing. Where possible, patients should be placed in single rooms or double rooms with adequate space in between individuals.

  • Separation of healthy and sick staff and patients: One of the most important factors to preventing cross-contamination has to do with separating healthy residents and staff from those who are infected. Staff and residents should be monitored and screened regularly. Anyone who has symptoms, who may have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, and anyone who is sick should be immediately separated from anyone who is well. There should be no contact between healthy residents and patients with the virus. In cases involving memory care residents, separation may require additional precautions.

  • Use of personal protective equipment: Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, face shields, masks, and gowns are important when dealing with residents, especially since some COVID-19 patients may have no symptoms. Correct use of PPE creates a barrier which can reduce the spread of COVID-19.

If a nursing home has failed to take adequate measures to prevent cross-contamination and your family member has become seriously ill or has passed away due to the nursing home’s negligence, you may have a legal claim. To find out whether you have a claim, contact Flaxman Law Group at 1-866-352-9626 (1-866-FLAXMAN) for a free consultation with a South Florida nursing home abuse and negligence attorney.

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