While the COVID-19 virus has not been as damaging to the health of younger people in the U.S., it is taking a heavy toll on minority populations, and nursing homes and long term care facilities are hardest hit in Nebraska, accounting for about two-thirds of the state’s death toll. Nebraska has reported 9,416 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 113 deaths caused by the coronavirus. Increased testing is in the works, but the actual number of infections is thought to be far higher than the number of confirmed cases. Studies suggest that people can be infected without feeling sick.
The elder and infirmed populations are always at a higher risk of contracting contagious illness, and those who are confined to communities that have even one outbreak of the virus are in more danger, highlighting the importance of isolation protocols. There are national standards of care that most states have adopted for nursing homes and long-term care facilities regarding infection control procedures designed to:
- Minimize the risks of infection to individuals living in nursing homes,
- Reduce risk of infection contracted through medical devices utilized in routine daily care,
- Reduce risk of transmission of infection between residents and nursing home staff,
- Inform and isolate patients who are found to be infected with communicable diseases.
If a patient was not isolated once the facility had knowledge of the increased risk of this virus, and they did not notify a resident’s responsible party for input regarding their safety, some responsibility about the health outcome of that resident may fall back onto the facility. Contact an attorney who specializes in nursing home law to guide actions when they are warranted, despite immunity granted in some situations for the outcomes of this pandemic.
These federal and state laws have been put into place to protect nursing home residents’ basic rights and ensure they are not abused or neglected in their living situation. Nursing home abuse and the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 may alter the way laws are interpreted when claims of negligence resulting in wrongful death or poor COVID-19 related health outcomes are cited.
Nursing homes are bound by Federal Regulation 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) providing for a facility to ensure a resident’s environment remains as free of hazards as possible and that ample supervision and adequate medical treatment upholding the current medical standards of care is given. Claims of abuse that can be reported include acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger.
If the death of a loved one occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic due to improper treatment, a family may be compensated if they can prove that gross negligence was involved. Wrongful death legal actions arise out of grave injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another. An experienced attorney can navigate the way the laws are interpreted for COVID-19 negative outcomes with possible compensation to Nebraska families.
Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987