Nursing Home Abuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Nursing home abuse is one of the most devastating things that can happen to our loved ones. When we need to place our elderly parents in nursing homes, we trust that nursing home employees and caretakers will provide excellent care and protect them from any type of abuse. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse continues to occur during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It can be excruciating for loved ones with relatives in nursing homes to be denied the right to visit them. The fact that relatives are no longer able to visit with their loved ones in person makes it difficult, if not impossible, to check for signs of abuse. Additionally, many of the COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes could have been prevented if the nursing home used reasonable care to protect their patients. 


Nursing Homes Lack Accountability in the COVID-19 Pandemic 

AARP recently came out with a report concluding that nursing homes have experienced poor government oversight. This lack of oversight has resulted in a lack of accountability within the nursing home industry. We have all watched in horror as the news reporters have discussed nursing home deaths due to COVID-19. Nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 symptoms at disproportionately high numbers than the general population. 

At least 106,000 staff and residents of nursing homes had died from the Coronavirus as of December 4th. According to the most recent data, approximately 270,000 total Americans have died from the coronavirus so far. As such, nursing home residents and their caretakers account for nearly 40% of all coronavirus-related deaths. The tragic part of the high number of nursing home deaths is that many were entirely preventable. 

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) retracted these facilities’ typical government oversight. Doing so has increased the possibility of nursing home abuse. Additionally, the CMS gave nursing homes 21 billion dollars in federal release funds Nationwide. Of those funds, 2.5 billion were supposed to control the spread of Coronavirus in nursing homes. These nursing homes acquired the funds with no strings attached. This lack of accountability and government neglect creates the perfect storm for nursing home abuse to go unnoticed. 


Many Coronavirus-Related Nursing Home Deaths Were Preventable 

The coronavirus pandemic escalated quickly, and nursing homes did not respond appropriately or quickly enough. Families of loved ones in nursing homes have not been able to get information about their loved one’s condition in time. Many family members have been left wondering if the coronavirus pandemic was under control and if their loved ones were able to get the help they needed. This lack of transparency has understandably led many family members to assume that their loved one’s death was preventable. 

Unfortunately, the American Healthcare Association, which runs for-profit and nonprofit nursing homes, has pushed for state and federal legal immunity of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. The Association reasons that providing immunity will allow nursing homes to treat patients quickly without fear of lawsuits. 

However, providing legal immunity prevents the surviving loved ones of family members who died from coronavirus to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. When staff members and administrators in nursing homes fail to provide their residents with reasonable care, surviving family members should be able to hold them responsible. 


Nursing Homes Owe Their Residents a Duty of Reasonable Care 

The coronavirus pandemic does not excuse nursing homes from their legal duty to provide their patients with reasonable care under the circumstances. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, have stated that nursing homes must follow the following safety precautions: 

  • Require all staff members to wear masks and keep them on at all times
  • Screen visitors to the nursing home for symptoms
  • Provide staff members with flexible sick leave policies so they can stay at home if they are exposed to the coronavirus or if they are showing any symptoms
  • Screen all nursing home residents every day for COVID-19 symptoms, including fevers
  • Strictly limit visitation from family and friends
  • Stop all community group activities and dining for nursing home residents

These policies are the bare minimum when it comes to protecting residents. Many states have imposed their guidelines for nursing homes. Some states require nursing homes to go a set of time without any new coronavirus diagnosis, they are allowed to ease restrictions on communal activities among nursing home residents. 

CMS requires nursing home facilities to alert their nursing home residents, as well as their representatives or family members of any new coronavirus cases that have sprung up in the nursing home. The agency has also been posting weekly data regarding the case count at the individual nursing home level and at the state and national levels. The agency announced stricter rules regarding inspections for nursing home infection control. The agency has stated that it will enforce these rules more seriously.


Bringing a Lawsuit for Nursing Home Abuse 

If your loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse during the coronavirus pandemic, you have legal options. You may be able to bring a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit against the nursing home, claiming that the nursing home’s negligence caused your loved one’s death or serious injuries. For example, if your loved ones nursing home overlooked ongoing abuse, you can bring a lawsuit against the nursing home. 


Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer 

Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is not an excuse for nursing home administrators to fail to protect their residents from nursing home abuse. Suppose your loved one died from the coronavirus, and you believe that the nursing home’s negligence contributed to your loved one’s death. In that case, it is worth speaking to a nursing home lawyer to see whether you have a legitimate legal plan for compensation. Contact Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free case evaluation.