legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Wrongful Death Attorneys
News reports have been filled with numerous nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers ravaged by outbreaks of COVID-19. Nursing home residents are perhaps the most vulnerable to this deadly illness as they are already infirm with pre-existing conditions.
They have by far the highest fatality rate from COVID-19, and the numbers thus far have been disturbing.
We might never even know the true extent of the toll that coronavirus has taken on nursing homes. We suspect that the number of deaths in nursing homes is far higher than reported thus far.
As of November 25, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported the total number of fatalities at nursing homes in the United States had exceeded 100,000. As far as we are concerned, even one avoidable death at a skilled nursing facility is unacceptable. If the person who has died is your family member, that one death will have an immeasurable impact on your family.
A Coronavirus Injury Attorney Can Help
The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC represent victims harmed by healthcare providers' gross negligence in mishandling the coronavirus pandemic. We also work on behalf of surviving family members who lost a loved one from the spread of the virus while under the care of a hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home.
Covid-19 Nursing Home Death FAQs
Why Is There an Increased Risk for Covid-19 in Nursing Homes?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), The communal setting of long-term care facilities populated with older adults suffering underlying medical issues increases the potential risk of infection and exposure to coronavirus.
Additionally, nursing health care providers must follow specific precautions and control practices to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Older adults tend to experience mild to severe symptoms, coronavirus-related illnesses, and death beginning two to fourteen days after exposure.
What Health Problems Can Make You Susceptible to Coronavirus?
The coronavirus is easily spread between humans through close contact and respiratory droplets exposure when sneezing, coughing, talking, singing, or breathing. Many infected individuals who unknowingly spread coronavirus have no symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, health problems associated with exposure to SARS-CoV-2 include:
- Cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and other severe heart diseases
- Type II diabetes
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Severe obesity
- Sickle-cell disease
- Chronic kidney disease
Can Covid-19 Disease Have Long-Term Effects?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the symptoms and aftereffects of exposure to Covid-19 could last for months and cause significant damage to the brain, heart, and lungs, increasing the risk of long-term health issues.
Many individuals testing positive for coronavirus will recover entirely within weeks.
Are Visitors Allowed into Nursing Homes during the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nursing homes should ban entry into the facility of any individual testing positive for coronavirus and those exhibiting associated symptoms. Visiting friends and relatives must follow CDC guidelines by wearing a cloth face mask while in the facility and stay in their loved one's room or other isolated areas on the grounds.
All residents, visitors, family members, and employees should perform frequent hand hygiene.
What Are Emergency Signs for Covid-19?
Individuals exposed to Covid-19 might exhibit some early warning signs and indicators that require immediate emergency care. Some of the emergent signs include:
- Difficulty breathing – shortness of breath
- Chills or fever
- Bluish lips
- Difficulty staying awake
- Body aches
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose or congestion
- Sore throat
- Fever and cough
- Chest pressure
- Persistent pain
Do Antibiotics Work against the Coronavirus?
Studies by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reveal that antibiotic medications are ineffective when fighting against and staving off viruses, including coronavirus disease. Antibiotics are only effective at controlling and killing bacteria, not viruses.
Lawyers Committed to Holding Skilled Nursing Facilities Accountable for Poor Covid-19 Infection Control Measures
Has coronavirus sickened or killed your loved one in a nursing home? If so, you might be entitled to financial compensation due to improper infection control policies and inadequate personal protective equipment.
Consider hiring a coronavirus lawyer with a background in taking decisive legal action against nursing homes that fail to follow the law in caring for your family member. The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center LLC have years of experience holding nursing homes accountable for neglect, abuse, and other lapses in care by filing civil lawsuits.
The COVID-19 Outbreak Has Ravaged Elderly Nursing Home Residents
Below is a small sampling of the nation's nursing Home outbreaks of Covid-19 and the widespread devastation resulting from the neglect and failure to control the situation. There will be even more examples of misconduct in the years ahead and the failure to follow basic protocols to control the outbreak.
The Kirkland WA Tragedy
The Life Care Centers of America nursing home chain has many underperforming facilities that have received low-quality ratings on their annual inspections. However, the large chain's Kirkland, WA facility had a history of inspection citations for failing to follow inspection control regulations.
The nursing home was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak when the pandemic first began to hit the U.S. Even though there were indications that there was a contagious and fatal respiratory illness at hand, team members assumed that there was an outbreak of the flu and were lax in dealing with the crisis as it unfolded.
Specifically, the Life Care Center failed to rapidly identify and manage ill residents and did not notify the Washington Department of Health about the increasing respiratory infection rate among residents and Health Care workers. The facility failed to recognize a health emergency and did not formulate a backup plan in the absence of the facility's primary clinician, who fell ill.
The facility's staffing shortages caused significant public health problems, leading to more severe problems and wrongful death.
A Shocking Discovery in New Jersey
On April 15, 2020, police in New Jersey, acting on a tip, made a gruesome discovery when visiting the Sussex County Andover Rehabilitation Center. They found seventeen dead bodies in a makeshift morgue built to hold four bodies.
Health officials suspected that mass numbers of home residents were dying when the nursing home requested twenty-five body bags. Coronavirus devastated the facility, where thirty-three residents died from the illness.
An additional seventy-six residents and forty-one staff members have tested positive for cases of COVID-19. Currently, the nursing home's owner is under criminal investigation.
Accusations of Negligence in Joliet, Illinois
Twenty-three residents of an Illinois Symphony of Joliet died in an outbreak of coronavirus in the facility. Immediately afterward, families had no idea what happened inside the nursing home, and facility officials did not give any details.
Families are accusing the nursing home of medical malpractice and negligence as they seek answers for what happened. Employees had been telling family members that their loved ones were fine while they were presumably ill. Then, the families were surprised to learn shortly after that that their loved one was critically ill.
The Nursing Homes' Obligations to Control Infections
Nursing homes are subject to some minimum essential obligations when it comes to infection control. The federal government provided some guidance to nursing homes on keeping residents apart to protect them.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicare.gov), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the State Department of Health did not provide guidance quickly. As a result, skilled nursing facilities were still obligated to use care when there is an outbreak of a pandemic that they know is highly contagious because of their obligation to have an infection control program regardless.
First, Medicare and Medicaid require nursing homes to follow basic infection control rules to receive governmental reimbursement for all services they provide.
The primary infection control rules are found at 42 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 483.80. They state:
- The nursing home must have an effective infection control program
- They must have a nursing home industry system to prevent, identify, report, investigate, and control infections and communicable diseases for all residents, staff, volunteers, visitors, and other individuals.
- They must identify infectious diseases before they could spread to other residents
- They must have procedures for when to isolate a resident with an infectious disease
- The nursing home must prevent health care professionals with infectious diseases from having direct contact with a resident.
- Nursing homes must take precautions so diseases are not transmitted.
As you can see, existing nursing home regulations cover the current coronavirus crisis. As such, the Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, which was the first nursing home ravaged by COVID-19, was fined over $600,000 by the federal government for its lapses in care that caused dozens of residents in the facility to die.
CMS and CDC COVID-19 Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities
Second, CMS and CDC issued supplemental guidance about nursing home facilities and medical care in general after COVID-19 cases became a pandemic. Some of this guidance states as follows:
- The CDC continues to add guidance requiring specific PPE (personal protective gear) and directing the facilities to implement hand hygiene. CMS will institute both inspections in response to complaints and a targeted inspection to make sure that the facility is following guidance
- Outside visitors to long-term care facilities have been temporarily restricted or barred entry
- Residents must be kept apart from each other in the dining room and other common areas
- Staff members and residents must be actively screened for fever, health conditions, and other respiratory symptoms
These are just a handful of government rules to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government continues to issue new guidance, and nursing homes must follow everything that the government has said as they are saying it. In other words, they must stay informed and make changes as they learn about new rules.
However, when many facilities have low-quality ratings and inadequate staffing, they cannot do what they need to to keep their residents safe.
Suing Nursing Homes Over Resident COVID-19 Deaths
Just because a resident dies from an illness that has affected hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country does not mean that the nursing home is without any blame. They can be held liable for wrongful death just the same as they would if the resident died from nursing home neglect.
The failure to prevent the spread of infection is negligence even if the disease is highly contagious, and the facility and staff were providing services in good faith. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to protect their residents over and above their liability protections, including taking steps to control an infection that could spread throughout the facility.
Of course, many nursing homes are trying to use the political process to escape liability for their actions or inactions during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, nursing homes in Florida, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have boldly requested that the governor give them immunity from civil lawsuits.
However, this is not likely to happen without an executive order by the states' Governors.
What You Need to Prove to Win a COVID-19 Lawsuit Against a Nursing Facility
A COVID-19 lawsuit will proceed in the same way as any other nursing home lawsuit, even if the topic is a complex pandemic that the country has never seen before. There is still the identical standard of proof as there would be in any wrongful death case or personal injury lawsuit.
You must prove that the nursing home acted negligently, which caused your loved one to become ill with coronavirus. However, most nursing home mistakes will not cause them to be financially responsible for a resident's illness or death.
Instead, the law requires that you show how the nursing home failed to uphold its duty of care. In other words, you must demonstrate that a nursing home acted unreasonably when it failed to take the proper actions to safeguard its residents from the spread of infection.
You must prove that the nursing home's unreasonable actions caused your loved one to get sick or die. Next, link causation by showing that your loved one would have never gotten sick without the nursing home's failure.
COVID-19 Nursing Home Lawsuits: Where They Stand
The first lawsuits against nursing homes for their failure to protect their residents from outbreaks of COVID-19 have begun to be filed. These are just the first of many claims filed as many skilled nursing facilities completely mishandled the spread of the pandemic among their residents.
The Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, whose actions are detailed above, is now facing lawsuits over its actions as coronavirus spread throughout the facility. The daughter of one of the residents who died filed a wrongful death lawsuit. She claims that nursing home negligence and neglect caused her mother's death as they failed to respond adequately when COVID-19 hit the facility.
The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home knew of the outbreak as early as February but failed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This case is likely the first of many lawsuits filed against the nursing home, given the number of people who died there.
A pre-lawsuit letter was sent to Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing, informing the skilled nursing facility of a future wrongful death lawsuit. The plaintiff will claim that her deceased mother was not isolated after she complained of being sick.
The letter alleges that the deceased was only taken to the hospital for illness after her daughter demanded that she be sent there. The plaintiff's lawyer has stated that ten additional families with residents at the facility have contacted him to file their lawsuit against the nursing home.
A Hayward, California family, threatened to file a civil liability claim against the health care facility where their loved one contracted COVID-19 and died. As late as March, the family claims that they saw staff members walking around the facility without wearing gloves and other protective equipment.
The nursing home admitted the deceased to the facility after the COVID-19 outbreak had started in the country. The nursing home at issue, East Bay Post-Acute, has a long history of rule violations, including one that led to a resident's death last year.
My Loved One Has Died in a Nursing Home With Coronavirus Cases. What Do I Do Now?
The most important thing is to be able to document your possible case against the nursing home where your loved one died. You have the right to request your loved one's medical and treatment records, and you should make sure to do that as soon as you can.
The nursing home must give these records over, although they will likely try to stonewall you, knowing that what they hand over can be the basis of the lawsuit.
Make sure to follow the procedures set forth by HIPAA to request these records. It is helpful to have a lawyer on your side as you start to investigate the circumstances behind your loved one's death.
Even though you are grieving, you should start to ask questions and try to figure out what happened immediately after you receive word of your loved one's illness or passing.
Get Legal Help Now. We're Committed to Protecting Your Legal Rights
The attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have a long track record of fighting for their clients against nursing homes that have failed to live up to their essential obligations to take care of their residents and keep them safe from infection and disease.
We can provide immediate legal advice in your pursuit to hold the nursing home accountable and get justice for your loved one's injury or death. We are with you every step of the way from the moment that you call us until the time that your case is over.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).