Nearly 300 Illinois nursing home patients and staff have died from COVID-19 near Chicago, but not all been identified, even where a significant number of residents have died.  There are 732 nursing homes listed by Medicare and Medicaid in Illinois, and approximately half  had confirmed cases of COVID-19.  The Illinois Department of Public Health states that an “aggressive campaign” has been put in place to try to test workers to keep them from bringing the virus into homes, but the campaign fails to alert the public of the nursing homes where staff, or patients have tested positive.  Illinois State Administration, as of Thursday, reported 587 patients and nursing home staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 throughout 305 of the 732 nursing homes in the state.  At 125 of the facilities, at least one resident or staff member died from COVID-19.  Federal health care regulators are pressuring for increased transparency in the nursing-home industry to quickly inform residents, families and staff when facilities confirm COVID-19 cases.

Disease spread.

Guidelines have been outlined to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois nursing homes and long term care facilities.  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 facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols might be considered a breach of the appropriate level of care leaving residents at risk and could be considered acts of unintentional negligence. 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 Illinois.

 Wrongful death.

A wrongful death action can be brought forth in Illinois when a person’s death is caused as a direct result of neglect or carelessness by another party.  Illinois statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the decedent’s death, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing the death. An experienced attorney can assist with determinations of legal action based on the individual case.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2059

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