Iowa’s Governor announced this past Monday that more than half of the Iowans who have died of COVID-19 were residents of long-term care centers and all but two of those people were older than 60. Increased testing will soon be available at long-term care facilities when they receive portable quick-test machines from Abbott Laboratories through the state. One day before Iowa announced the impacts of continued spread in their nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directed U.S. nursing homes to report coronavirus cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as to patients and their families.

Liability.

Most U.S. nursing home and residential facilities instituted measures to reduce visitor, staff, and resident traffic to decrease the spread of COVID-19 germs from the outside community early on in the pandemic, but those measures have not been enough to stop related illness and death.   Isolation protocols are a prerequisite in registered skilled residential facilities and the state has some say as to how communicable diseases are addressed.  As soon as symptoms of a communicable disease are recognized in a long term living community, administration should immediately isolate sick individuals from other at-risk residents to avoid negligent behavior. Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home laws in Iowa to review a case where measures may not have been taken to protect a long term care resident from illnesses or death caused by COVID-19, due to the mishandling of infectious disease protocols and/or sustained exposure to other sick residents.

Isolation protocols.

The majority of states have adopted the national standards of care required at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  They include infection control procedures undertaken during care and activities of daily living and administration transparency regarding virus transmission between residents and nursing home staff. A duty of care is owed to residents, whereby acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions, or place residents in danger are avoided because they are a form of nursing home abuse.  Deviations from standards of care may include poor sanitary conditions that leave residents at risk of a lengthy bout of COVID-19-illness with prolonged medical treatments and complications of treatment including death.

Compensation.

Compensation may be available for personal injury or death related to COVID-19 complications arising at a long term care facility.  Damages related to costs of associated medical care can include reimbursement for treatment you have already received and compensation for the estimated costs of future medical care resulting from a COVID-19 infection. Other remedies are available based on the case.

Wrongful death.

An experienced attorney can assist with determinations of legal action based on the individual case regarding personal injury or wrongful death. A wrongful death action can be brought forth in Iowa when a person’s death is a direct result of neglect or carelessness by another party.

 

Sources.

Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987

Iowa Code 136.3

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