More than half of the Americans residing in nursing homes across the country are older than 75 years of age and may have a pre-existing medical condition that has led to their need to live in a skilled facility. Federal and state laws are in place to protect a resident’s basic rights and all should be free from abuse and neglect in their living situation. Common forms of abuse include “unintentional abuse” and may be relevant to wrongful death from COVID-19 in Maryland nursing homes. To address the pandemic need for specialized care, Maryland has implemented the use of strike teams, including infectious disease specialists, nurses and the National Guard since early April, and announced that it has also started deploying “bridge teams” that can provide supplemental, temporary staff for nursing homes that don’t have enough workers.
Forms of abuse.
Nursing home abuse can occur during various daily living situations through methods of:
- Verbal abuse – The directed use of oral, written language or improper gestures that include critical offensive and belittling terms to residents or their families
- Sexual abuse – sexual harassment, sexual coercion, or sexual assault.
- Physical abuse – affect control by the threat of corporal punishment, or hitting, pushing or painful restraint.
- Mental abuse – humiliation, harassment, punishment or deprivation, and gas lighting.
- Involuntary seclusion – Separating a resident from other residents taking them from their personal space, or even confinement against the resident’s will.
- Unintentional Abuse – warning signs may include developing bed sores, exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions, frequent falls, or poor hygiene such as lack of bathing or brushing teeth.
Medicare certified regulations.
If a nursing home accepts Medicare, the nursing home must follow Federal Regulations which set forth the standard of care. One of these regulations is 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) which provides the facility ensure a resident’s environment remains as free of hazards as possible and adequate supervision is provided, along with a provision of providing adequate medical treatment in line with the current medical standard of care. When sub-standard care results in harm to a resident, possible legal action may be taken against a nursing home and/or the treating medical professional. Nursing home abuse claims include acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger and deviations from NHRA could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.
A legal professional who specializes in nursing home laws may be able to assist in piecing information together to determine if negligence is suspected due to inaction of staff and administration caring for Maryland nursing home residents.
If a person died of COVID-19 complications at a residential care facility because they were not isolated from sick individuals once staff became aware of related dangers, a degree of responsibility may fall onto the facility. Wrongful death legal actions address the death of a person resulting from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another. An experienced attorney can navigate the way the laws are interpreted for compensation to Maryland families.
Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987