The Florida Health Care Association asked for “sovereign immunity” to be extended to health care professionals and facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak, as they attempt to care for patients who have contracted COVID-19 in Florida long-term living communities. After refusing for weeks, the state of Florida released the names of 303 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with cases of the coronavirus, a number that represents almost  half of the 700 facilities in the state.  This revelation came around the time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directed U.S. nursing homes to report coronavirus cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as to patients and their families.

Determination of fault.   

A determination of the manner in which diseases are spread could result in fault being assigned from incidents of negligence.  Nursing home residents are at high risk of COVID-19 illness because of age, weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions that provide a fertile environment for the dangerous communicable disease to grow and spread.  The COVID-19 virus initially spread in certain species of animals and has mutated to a virus that can now take host in humans and spread through coughing, sneezing and close contact between people.  This new method of transmission has caused a high death toll among long-term residential facilities in America.  Until the ongoing research and investigation provide concrete answers about COVID-19 virus transmission, caregivers must act with caution and utilize best practice isolation precautions that have been previously successful in containing highly contagious diseases.

Duty of care.

A duty of care is owed to all Florida nursing home residents and acknowledges that nursing home abuse , in accordance with federal law, often includes acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger. If a resident becomes ill with COVID-19 due to deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and/or administrative infectious disease protocols, fault may be assigned if breaches in professional standards of care are identified and proven as unintentional negligence. If you, or someone you love contracted COVID-19, or died as a result of the mishandling of infectious disease protocols, you may be entitled to compensation from a Florida long-term facility for a breach in duty of care.  Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws for specifics.

Wrongful death.

A Florida wrongful death action can be filed when a person’s death is directly caused by neglect, or carelessness by another individual. Infection control in nursing facilities is governed by the Department of Health and Human Services through state and federal laws and outlines situations when infected residents should be isolated away from healthy residents. An experienced attorney can give guidance regarding legal action based on the individual case if another party played a role in someone’s death through negligence, or some other intentional act.

 

Sources.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/0768.html

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

 

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