Reasonable precautionary measures.
If someone died at a long term care facility, or nursing home, also referred to in Kansas as an adult care home (ACH), because they were not isolated from sick individuals, a degree of responsibility may fall onto the ACH. Seeking consultation with an experienced attorney about the case is advised. The U.S. death toll involving residents of nursing homes is high because long term care facilities are a perfect setting for communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to spread through the at-risk population who live in a closed community and share essential supplies and medical resources. Close contact with infected individuals who may sneeze or cough can easily spread infection to other residents of an ACH.
Kansas emergency response.
A State of Disaster Emergency was proclaimed for the State of Kansas on March 12, 2020, outlining specific procedural guidance for all adult care homes to protect the aging population, while care providers navigate through the COVID-19 disease processes. Some common residential rights will be denied during this disaster emergency including group participation – CMS has waived 42 CFR 483.101(f)(5) to restrict resident rights to participate in resident groups in order to follow restrictions on in-person gatherings and social distancing. This process also allows for the isolation that is required by CMS and the CDC; and physical environment rights have been altered to provide for appropriate quarantine, isolation, and recovery areas and to allow homes to expand overall capacity to meet possible high demand for services. Sometimes limiting these two things is cause for a nursing home abuse claim, but in these unprecedented times it is more important to focus on eliminating acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions or place residents in danger, which may also be considered abuse.
Because older patients have fallen prey to COVID-19 compared to younger individuals, those over 60 years of age, or who have chronic underlying medical conditions should be monitored closely and facilities should engage in isolation precaution practices utilized for respiratory infections such as influenza. Deviations from facility cleanliness, staff hygiene and administrative infectious disease protocols could place a resident at risk and may be considered acts of unintentional negligence.
Kansas’ wrongful death statute can be found at K.S.A. 60-1901 and provides the necessary elements needed for legal action: 1) death of a person and 2) caused by “wrongful act or omission of another. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Kansas is two years from the date of the decedent’s death in most cases. Contact an experienced attorney who is familiar with elder care laws if you, or a loved one suffered injury, or death caused by unsafe COVID-19 ACH practices, inadequate isolation precautions and sustained exposure to other sick long-term care residents to discuss your case. Because the injury or death was caused during a pandemic, special circumstances my apply and an attorney will need to evaluate individual cases to determine legal action.