Can I sue an Idaho nursing home for a COVID-19-related death of my family member?

In the case of a pandemic such as coronavirus (COVID-19) increasing the amount of deaths occurring at U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities, critical investigation will need to take place for legal action to be pursued.  If a nursing home failed to implement appropriate protocols to identify and limit the spread of COVID-19 in their facility, they may be open to legal action. If you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death from the mishandling of infectious disease protocols due to sustained exposure to other sick residents, contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws in Idaho.

Isolation protocols.

There are national standards of care that most states have adopted for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  Idaho’s standards are put in place to protect the rights and care of the residents, and include infection control procedures designed to:

  1. Minimize the risks of infection to individuals living in nursing homes,
  2. Reduce risk of infection contracted through medical devices utilized in routine daily care,
  3. Reduce risk of transmission of infection between residents and nursing home staff,
  4. Inform and isolate patients who are found to be infected with communicable diseases.

COVID-19 has most recently evolved from a virus spread in certain species of animals to a virus that can take host in humans and spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact between people.  It is most dangerous among persons over 60 who have chronic medical issues or weakened immune systems allowing disease spread with elevated outcomes of death.  Visitors, staff, and resident’s traffic provide a perfect opportunity to bring pathogens from the community into this fragile setting.

Duty of care.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987,  a duty of care is owed to residents of nursing homes to ensure that all residents receive care meeting professional standards in the health care field.  Nursing home abuse includes acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger. Deviations from methods of maintaining sanitary conditions including: proper handwashing; care of equipment; daily housekeeping; sterile supply storage; preparation and storage of food; pest control; proper resident care practices regarding catheters, dressings and isolations precautions; and needle and syringe management may be considered a breach of the appropriate level of care, placing residents at increased risk and could be considered acts of unintentional negligence.

Wrongful death.

A wrongful death action can be brought forth in Idaho when a person’s death is caused as a direct result of neglect or carelessness by another party.  An experienced attorney can assist with determinations of legal action based on the individual case regarding personal injury or wrongful death.


Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987


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