Though we all must take necessary precautions and practice social distancing to protect ourselves from COVID-19, elders face the greatest risk. As a Memphis personal injury lawyer, I know nursing homes can quickly become hotspots, as evidenced by the Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state. As of last month, at least 35 coronavirus-related deaths were linked to the Center. At one point, it accounted for more than half of the death toll in America.
Washington’s Life Care Center is not alone. At an assisted living facility in New Jersey, nearly a hundred people have had the virus, Business Insider reports. It’s clear that nursing homes can quickly become dangerous for their residents. While the pandemic is beyond our control, nursing homes still have a responsibility.
Duty of Care and Coronavirus Cases
There’s a legal term called duty of care. Under the law, entities like nursing homes owe people a certain duty of care. If they break it, through negligent, reckless, or intentionally harmful conduct, they can—and should—be held accountable. This general legal principle applies to coronavirus cases, too. If a nursing home doesn’t take precautions to prevent coronavirus, negligence may be at play. Residents and their loved ones are empowered to take action. Our lawyers are here to get you justice.
Many cases of nursing home abuse or negligence stem from understaffing. Generally speaking, if a facility knows that its staffing levels pose a risk to patient safety, that can help your case. It is helpful to consider in the context of these coronavirus cases.
What responsibilities does a nursing home have?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out a preparedness checklist. Long-term care facilities can use it as a yardstick. The CDC suggestions planning for:
- Rapid identification and management of ill residents
- Considerations for visitors and consultant staff
- Supplies and resources
- Sick leave policies and other occupational health considerations
- Education and training
- Surge capacity for staffing, equipment and supplies, and postmortem care
These are some specific precautions nursing homes must take, according to the CDC:
- Ensure that all staff members use good hygiene practices and wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Make sure that potentially infected or infected staff avoid contact with residents and patients
- Have visitors avoid contact with infected residents and patients
- Cancel communal dining and all group activities
- Remind residents to practice social distancing and perform frequent hand hygiene.
- Create a plan for cohorting residents with symptoms of respiratory infection, including dedicating staff to work only on affected units.
Speak with an experienced Memphis personal injury lawyer.
Nothing matters more than your loved one’s health. If a nursing home fails to take necessary precautions, they must be held responsible.
Speak with an experienced Memphis personal injury lawyer to learn if you have a case. We have the compassion and the experience to fight for you and your family. Give us a call at (901) 327-2100 to schedule your free consultation.