When You Should Consider a Coronavirus Lawsuit
Have you or a loved one contracted the COVID-19 virus while in the care of a nursing home? If the nursing home failed to meet enhanced safety standards or to follow emergency restrictions, it may be in your best interest to pursue a coronavirus lawsuit. With a successful lawsuit, you’ll be able to receive the compensation you deserve.
One of the cruelest aspects of this pandemic has been its impact on the most vulnerable, especially those residing in nursing homes. Some patients have even contracted this virus through neglectful or otherwise harmful practices.
Nursing homes should consistently meet or exceed standards of safety and comfort for their residents. Many California nursing homes in recent years have experienced cases of harmful neglect and abuse. If maltreatment or lack of attention to patients led to you or a loved one contracting COVID 19, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can help.
Raised Levels of COVID 19 Dangers to Elderly Populations
One of the most vulnerable populations to serious illness or death from COVID 19 is senior citizens. Elderly individuals tend to have reduced resistance to most diseases and this serves as no exception.
According to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of deaths have occurred among those Americans aged 65 or older. Across the country, this can include a vulnerable population of up to 105 million. Many older people suffer from chronic conditions that reduce immune system effectiveness. This renders them especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and less able to recover from its potentially destructive symptoms.
The over 400,000 Californians living in nursing homes deserve each facility’s best efforts in curbing the spread and keeping patients safe. Centers for Disease Control officials urge facilities to continually check staff for symptoms, limit interactions and gatherings, and also restrict visitors.
Typically, nursing homes that work to maintain high standards in normal circumstances will fare better during the current crisis. Conversely, a poor track record of care creates concern. A nursing home with a long history of complaints and issues may demonstrate warning signs that the facility could be more vulnerable to the virus.
Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes Already Prevalent in California
Unfortunately, cases of nursing home neglect and abuse are high in California. According to state numbers, 13 percent of claims against nursing homes in the state involve abuse and neglect. That is almost three times the national average of five percent.
Some of these cases involve a dangerous lack of respect for patient safety, rights, and even human dignity. One case saw a patient humiliated and ridiculed by illegally disseminated photographs of his genitalia and anus. Though this behavior does not affect the spread of COVID-19, it may indicate a staff problem with following rules and basic patient respect and care.
Too many nursing homes already face investigations for misconduct during normal circumstances. Patient claims demonstrate that not all centers take care seriously enough. This can make concerns for patient safety increase during a pandemic.
Nationwide, the entire industry has struggled to protect patients. A University of South Florida study indicated that infection control even prior to the pandemic presented serious problems. Nearly 60 percent of nursing homes were cited for infection-related violations. Over 15 percent received multiple citations.
Reach out to our team at Quirk Reed LLP to discuss potentially dangerous practices in your nursing home or a facility caring for your loved one. Let us know if you or your loved one has contracted COVID-19. We can investigate to see if you are eligible for compensation.
Nursing Home Obligations During a Pandemic
All nursing homes have the obligation in normal times to meet or exceed standards of care, health, and hygiene set by the government.
During a pandemic, they are expected to comply with all guidelines and directives issued by federal, state, and local authorities. Their responsibility as an institution includes keeping up with the latest news, information, and directions the government expects them to follow.
Failure to follow mandates, keep necessary supplies, or adhere to staffing and security rules can make a nursing home liable if one of its patients contracts COVID-19.
The State of California will maintain strict enforcement of emergency guidelines to protect the safety of both staff and patients in nursing homes.
Top 10 COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths By State
|State||COVID-19 Deaths (State Reported)||Date (Total Deaths)||COVID-19 Deaths (LTCF / Assisted Living)||Date (LTCF / Assisted Living Deaths)|
COVID-19 Deaths Occurring In Nursing Homes In United States
Federal Government Nursing Home Guidelines During Pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has issued guidelines to nursing homes, usually through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS.) These orders are issued to keep both patients and staff as safe as possible while the virus continues to spread.
Nursing homes present strong challenges to efforts to contain the spread of the virus and prevent death. They have large numbers of residents, many with compromised health or immunity, in close proximity. Additionally, the virus has higher rates of symptoms and death among older individuals. Thus far, nursing homes have been the unfortunate centers of many mass deaths from the virus.
Safety, security, and hygiene should be their paramount priorities.
It’s important for you as a patient or as a caring loved one to stay aware of all state, federal, and local restrictions. When nursing homes do not follow the rules and patients get sick or even die as a result, they may be held accountable for their neglect.
For example, CMS rules as of March 13th include these directives:
- Restrictions placed on all patient visitation. Only specific situations involving compassionate care, such as end of life, will be allowed exceptions.
- No non-essential personnel can enter patient care areas, including those providing patient services deemed non-essential, such as barbers and hairstylists.
- Communal activities and dining are forbidden.
- There should be active screening for all staff and patients for symptoms of COVID-19.
Guidance from early April includes a mandate, where possible, for entirely separate staff members to deal with COVID-19 infected patients.
With a rapidly changing situation, more rules may come out every day. While we cannot list them all here, we suggest that you as a patient or as the loved one of a patient make sure that you keep track of them.
When nursing homes do not follow guidelines and rules and patients suffer as a result, they can be held liable.
How Typical Abuse and Neglect Can Lead to COVID-19 Dangers
A nursing home, even during normal times, faces the expectation to provide excellent care and safety for its patients. If a facility does not follow typical rules of safety, hygiene, and treatment, this could indicate an elevated threat to patients from COVID-19.
Many nursing home patients have risk factors that make them more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Many patients can no longer effectively communicate. Others endure difficult medical or emotional problems regularly.
Patients who have a number of needs and difficult personalities, or those who cannot communicate at all, may be at a greater risk for abuse and neglect.
The Nursing Home Abuse Center recognizes six categories of abuse of nursing home patients. While we may see hundreds of different cases, those categories can often help loved ones or patients themselves better understand the problems of abuse and neglect. They also can help you determine if you or a loved one have suffered from either.
These categories are as follows:
- Physical abuse, including unexplained broken bones, bruises, lacerations, or concussions. Some patients may show signs of repeated restraint, such as rope marks on wrists. Visible scars and welts on different parts of the body may also be an indicator.
- If the employees seem reluctant to allow you to contact or see the patient, this could also serve as a sign of abuse. During the pandemic, however, you may not be able to visit your loved one in-person.
- Emotional abuse can be more difficult to detect. In some cases, the symptoms resemble some of those of dementia or Alzheimers. Mumbling, thumb sucking, or other behaviors that look like childlike regression can serve as signs of emotional trauma.
- Witnessing even slightly degrading behavior from a caregiver can be a huge red flag. If they show abusive behaviors in front of loved ones, they likely do far worse when left alone with patients.
- Neglect can create even more problems than direct abuse, especially during a pandemic. Neglect often leaves telltale signs. These include dirty sheets, blankets, and clothes, Bedsores and dehydration or unexplained weight loss can also serve as crucial signs of neglect.
- Other abuse categories do not make a victim more vulnerable to COVID-19 but are still serious. Sexual abuse, healthcare fraud, and financial abuse should be prosecuted and may also leave the facility subject to lawsuits
Even more concerning during the pandemic is the lack of support for health care workers, including staff at nursing homes. If an individual or group seems overworked or lacks patient management skills, they may make errors that could put your loved one at a greater risk of infection. There are also reports of a lack of personal protective gear, which can make it hard for nursing home employees to protect themselves and residents.
Staff May Fall Victim to Negligence As Well
Not only patients but also staff members may suffer infection if a facility continues to use careless and neglectful practices. One nursing home in Washington state saw up to 70 staff fall ill with the virus.
Employees may face a high risk of infection due to their exposure levels throughout the facility. If nursing homes do not follow expected procedures, staff have as much right to file a personal injury lawsuit as do patients. Facilities with complaints about insufficient infection protection in the past may be a significant risk to the staff who work there, as well as the patients.
What to Do If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect Contributed to Contracting COVID-19
If you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 in a nursing home, it may have happened due to neglect or errors that could have been prevented.
Unfortunately, all too often, reports indicate that many nursing homes failed to take proper precautions or otherwise comply with pandemic related instructions. In some cases, employees were not even wearing masks and scrubs while providing care.
One of your first steps, when you learn of a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, is to call Quirk Reed LLP. Our team can perform an investigation of the nursing home itself to determine any fault on their part.
Our investigation would take an in-depth look at their practices and processes. We would work to determine if the nursing home followed federal, state, and also local guidelines. An investigation will also track any record of complaints and other issues that the nursing home may have experienced.
Once we put together a picture of how the nursing home operates, how workers behave, and their compliance with government orders, we can determine how to proceed with the case.
At Quirk Reed LLP, our passion and dedication lie in serving those who have been wronged through no fault of their own. We provide thorough, no-cost, no-obligation consultations and never collect fees unless we get justice for you, our client.
Reach Out To The Lawyers At Quirk Reed LLP Today!
Learn more about how Quirk and Reed Attorneys at Law can help you get justice after a COVID-19 infection. Contact us by email, phone, or message if you have any questions about how we can help.
Our professional and expert staff can provide answers or set you up with a consultation.
Finally, we understand that you could be calling during a stressful situation or after a devastating loss. We take a compassionate and sympathetic approach to all cases that affect clients so profoundly. Rest assured that we will listen to you and fight for the justice that you deserve.
Let us work together to make sure that abuse and neglect leading to COVID-19 infection is unacceptable. Call us today.