A Deadly Superbug Spreads Through California Hospitals and Nursing Homes - Candida Auris Compensation Guide

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A Deadly Superbug Spreads Through California Hospitals and Nursing Homes - Candida Auris Compensation Guide

Candida Auris seldom makes headlines. Yet this mysterious yeast kills “more than 1 in 3 patients. . . within a month of infection,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and Prevention. And the most vulnerable are at the highest risk. CDC reports have revealed that many of  C. Auris’ fatal victims in the U.S. have been nursing home residents.

In a document released last November, the CDC described Candida Auris as the “second most urgent pathogen threat” in our country. This deadly superbug appears to be killing individuals who have spent time at long-term care facilities, mainly hospitals and nursing homes. Since it was first identified in Japan in 2009, the antibiotic-resistant fungus has taken hundreds of lives.

Candida Auris is an invasive and antibiotic-resistant fungal pathogen. It can survive for long periods on both wet and dry surfaces. There have been hundreds of cases in many U.S. states,  with New York, Illinois, and California among the most affected. 

The CDC warns that Candida Auris “can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections,” and that the yeast “often does not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, making infections difficult to treat,” especially affecting patients who have been in a hospital or nursing home for a long time or have previously received antibiotics.

Candida Auris

The Rising Risk of Candida Auris Infection  

Candida Auris is deadly. According to the CDC, the percentage of people who have died after an infection by the pathogen is between 30 and 60 percent. The federal agency states on its website that the people at the highest risk for Candida Auris infection are “people who have recently spent time in nursing homes and have lines and tubes that go into their body (such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and central venous catheters).” Other risk factors  include “recent surgery, diabetes, broad-spectrum antibiotic, and antifungal use.” 

Besides being deadly and often untreatable, Candida Auris is pervasive. After a man infected with the superbug died at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, C. Auris remained very much alive. “Tests showed it was everywhere in his room,” the New York Times reported, “so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.” 

A doctor later recalled that the yeast was found everywhere in the deceased patient’s room including “the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump. . . The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling.”

Candida Auris Outbreak in California

In May 2019, the  Orange County Health Care Agency issued a Candida Auris alert after  several cases of infection were detected at local nursing homes. The real crisis would begin later in the year when a large number of patients were reported infected at a total of nine hospitals and SNFs (skilled nursing facilities) across the state.

In October 2019, the CDC and the California HHS Agency reported that inappropriate infection prevention practices at three local long-term acute care hospitals and six SNFs in Southern California and Orange County had led to a Candida Auris outbreak affecting 181 individuals, of whom 36 had already died.  

The list of California facilities where people have been infected with Candida Auris includes Kindred Hospitals in Westminster, Santa Ana, and Brea; Santa Ana’s French Park Care Center and Garden Park Care Center; Pacific Haven Subacute and Healthcare Center in Garden Grove, New Orange Hills, and Regency Oaks Post Acute Care Center in Long Beach. This list includes facilities where cases were identified between January 1, 2018 and November 4, 2019.

An investigation revealed that some of these facilities’ adherence to hand hygiene was below 50 percent. At some of them, only 60 percent of surfaces were germ-free, and there was limited access to hand disinfectants. Simply put, lives might have been saved if nursing home and hospital personnel had simply used hand sanitizer more often and appropriately washed hands before and after coming into contact with patients.

If you or a loved one were infected with Candida Auris at one of the facilities mentioned above, contact us. We are investigating various cases of infection with the deadly superbug in Orange County, Los Angeles, and other locations across California. Our team of advisors includes doctors and scientists specialized in C. Auris infections. 

In the past, we have identified problems like insufficient hygiene and understaffing at various facilities. If this type of negligence has resulted in you or a loved one becoming infected, you may be entitled to compensation. 

How to Sue California Nursing Homes and Hospitals for Candida Auris Infections

In California, nursing homes and hospitals are required by law to adhere to a high standard of care. Candida Auris infections are preventable, and these facilities and the people who work there must do everything in their power to stop their spread. 

The State of California specifically requires facilities to have sufficient staff in place to meet every patient’s and every resident’s needs 24/7. The state has issued numerous warnings and prevention protocols relating to Candida Auris, and facilities must adhere to them, too.

If you saw an employee who didn’t wash their hands as required, failed to keep surfaces clean, or otherwise jeopardized the safety and well-being of patients, you must report it immediately. Rule violations are widespread in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, and other locations across the state, and they can be deadly. 

Underpaid and insufficiently trained nursing home employees increase the risk of Candida Auris outbreaks. Whenever these pathogens spread, nursing homes and hospitals can be liable.

Whenever a California skilled nursing facility or acute care hospital fails to adhere to sanitation and hygiene requirements, deadly infections can spread. When patients are infected with Candida Auris or another deadly pathogen, patients and their families may be entitled to compensation. Damages in these types of cases include medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care expenses, and reduced life expectancy.

Our nursing home neglect attorneys specialize in cases of Candida Auris infection in California and beyond. We have a nationwide network of advocates and investigators ready to get to the bottom of any Candida Auris case involving poor hygiene, understaffing, or substandard care. 

Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. Remember, there is typically a two-year window to file this type of lawsuits in California. There may be a more strict deadline in some cases. Do not waste time, or you might ruin your chances of exposing facilities that put patients at risk and securing monetary compensation. Call us today for a complimentary case assessment.

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Steve Hochfelsen

Steve Hochfelsen is an Orange County, California business litigation lawyer and author.

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