With more Americans than ever moving into nursing homes, recently, their children have begun questioning the quality of food their parents receive. As Americans live longer, they often find themselves unable to live independently, whether because of memory problems, physical restrictions, or lack of transportation.
In a nursing home, the residents rely on the staff to cook and serve them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With the astronomical price residents often pay per month, their families expect them to receive high-quality, nutritious meals. However, recent studies have shown that the food situation in many nursing homes across the country is dire, with dirty kitchens, outdated food, and unsafe food handling by staff.
Outbreaks of Foodborne Illnesses
Between 1997 and 2017, nursing homes reported 230 outbreaks caused by foodborne illnesses. Across the country, these outbreaks accounted for 54 deaths and over 500 hospitalizations.
Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks since they often have extensive medical issues or are elderly. Unfortunately, the federal government has limited regulations concerning nursing home kitchens, making it difficult to bring these companies to justice. Some nursing homes, despite being repeat offenders, receive low fines.
However, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your relative, claiming that negligence by the staff caused the outbreak. First, you must determine the cause of the outbreak that injured your loved one by working with a Montgomery nursing home lawyer.
Causes of Foodborne Illnesses
Many types of foodborne illnesses can cause medical problems. While a young person may suffer from a day of vomiting and an upset stomach, an elderly, sick person could die from some of these pathogens.
Although the type of foodborne illness could affect the severity of the injury suffered, your lawyer must determine what caused the outbreak. Common causes of outbreaks in the last ten years include:
- Poor food sanitation by nursing home staff
- Unsafe food caused by inappropriate storage
- Unwashed hands
- Dirty kitchens
However, some outbreaks do originate from contaminated outside food brought into the nursing home by well-meaning visitors.
Building a Case
If your loved one suffered severely after a foodborne illness outbreak, you might wonder about seeking compensation for their damages, including expensive medical bills or funeral costs.
You may be able to file a claim under nursing home abuse, depending on the cause of the outbreak. If you spot signs of a dirty kitchen, moldy food on the buffet, or see nursing staff handling food without washing their hands, take pictures or notes.
If you live out of state and cannot regularly visit your elderly relative who lives in an Alabama nursing home, there are few red flags to be aware of:
- Your relative regularly complains about stomach bugs
- They make comments about rotten or bad tasting food
- Your relative’s health has rapidly deteriorated
You may want to set up an easy-to-use electronic tablet for your relative to communicate with you. Try to call them around mealtime so you can examine the food quality for yourself.
Even if you just have suspicions, food poisoning in older adults can have devastating and sometimes fatal consequences. Contacting an experienced nursing home attorney in Alabama could help you uncover serious problems in your parent’s nursing home.
For elderly residents who have already experienced significant health repercussions as a result of poor food quality, a nursing home lawyer at our law firm can get you compensation by helping you take the appropriate legal action for your situation.
Nursing home staff have a duty to provide a certain level of care and protect the residents’ rights. Offering moldy food, failing to follow kitchen hygiene, or having a bug infestation infringes on the residents’ rights and breaches the duty of care.
If your lawyer can prove that the breach of duty directly led to your relative’s sickness, they could win you substantial compensation. Nursing home lawsuits can include several damages, such as:
- Medical expenses, current, and future
- Disability care
- Pain and suffering
Besides contacting a lawyer, you should file a complaint with the Alabama Public Health Department. You can send a message through their online form, call the Assisted Living Facilities complaint hotline, or send a letter.
Get Justice For Your Parent
If you have a parent who suffered an illness or death from the food at their nursing home in Alabama, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the team at Sawyer Law Firm to arrange a free consultation and learn whether you can file a lawsuit on behalf of your parent.