According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1.3 million Americans live in nursing homes, and more than half are over the age of 75.  Every nursing home resident deserves to retain their basic human dignity, to be treated with respect at all times and remain free from abuse and neglect. Massachusetts contains over 400 certified Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes with 46,755 available beds and the State has the responsibility for certifying them regarding all residential care compliance matters.

Nearly 70 residents of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts have died in one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 occurring inside a long-term care facility in the U.S.  Massachusetts state officials, along with the U.S Department of Justice, are trying to determine whether residents were denied proper care.  Staff members have admitted that patients who were sick were left in the same living area as those who were not. State officials were aware of the staff shortages and the dangers posed to all of the residents.

Standard of Care 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 remain as free of hazards as possible and adequate supervision is provided, along with a provision of 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.

Negligence.

A legal professional who specializes in nursing home laws may be able to assist in piecing information together to determine if unintentional negligence, due to staff and administration inaction caring for Massachusetts nursing home residents occurred.  COVID-19 has put healthcare workers in precarious situations and questions of legal immunity will need to be analyzed, especially in state run facilities, as dangers of COVID-19 were not immediately foreseeable.

Wrongful death.

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 families suffering the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19 treatment, or lack of treatment in Massachusetts nursing homes.

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

 

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