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Maggots in nursing home residents: A real-life horror story

by | Nov 29, 2021 | Firm News

There is a standard of professional care that residents and their families expect nursing homes to meet. Unfortunately, many facilities fall short of this mark in ways that are downright horrifying.

For example, there have been multiple reports over several decades of nursing home residents experiencing infestations of maggots in and on their bodies. Though it sounds like a plot point from a gothic horror novel from the 19th century, one of the most recently reported incidents occurred in October 2021.

Condition of myiasis

According to the CDC, the medical term for this alarming phenomenon is myiasis. It occurs when flies lay their eggs in an open wound or a bodily orifice, such as the ear or nose. It takes less than a day for the larvae to emerge from the eggs, at which point they start growing and feeding on whatever is available.

Flies make their homes and lay their eggs in filth and decay. If residents of a nursing home have myiasis, it speaks poorly of the overall conditions of hygiene and cleanliness at the facility. It also strongly suggests neglect of patients’ medical needs. Regular cleaning of an open wound should remove the fly’s eggs before they have a chance to hatch. A fly may not even lay eggs in a wound that is not festering.

Recent and historic reports

One of the most recent reports of myiasis in a nursing home comes from a facility in North Carolina. According to Newsweek, a resident of the facility had an open wound in her heel that became infested with maggots. A staff worker at the facility sent the resident’s grandson a video of the creatures crawling out from under his grandmother’s skin. The facility has a history of 21 previous health and safety violations, some netting heavy fines.

This incident is similar to one that occurred in Illinois in 2012. In that instance, a resident had an infestation of maggots in her ear. The resident was a patient in the Alzheimer’s ward. Reportedly, the patient had had her hair washed without the caretaker noticing the infestation. When a nurse finally did notice a three-day-old maggot crawling out of the resident’s ear, the resident went to the emergency room where staff removed 57 maggots. The administrator of the nursing home called it a freak occurrence that did not reflect on the quality of care provided at the facility. Family members of the resident disagreed and filed a lawsuit.

In both instances, the family members of the residents affected with myiasis moved them to different facilities.