Legal Actions Filed: Coronavirus Spreads in Nursing Homes
June 29, 2020 | Coronavirus
According to court documents, Linden Center For Nursing and Rehabilitation failed to protect a resident from contracting coronavirus.
He suffered “excruciating pain and agony, including fear of imminent death,” according to these documents.
In a separate action, a Manhattan woman accused Northern Manhattan Rehabilitation Center of medical malpractice and gross negligence.
Specifically, the facility “failed to take the proper steps to protect the residents and/or patients at their facilities from the COVID-19 virus,” although some employees were “infected with and contracted COVID-19 while caring for patients.”
The actions demand unspecified damages.
COVID-19 and Nursing Homes
Some combination of understaffing, poor equipment, and poor communication causes many of the coronavirus cases in New York nursing homes.
As many as 90 percent of nursing homes are dangerously understaffed. Most nursing home employees work long hours for little pay.
In this environment, high turnover rates are practically inevitable. This turnover feeds training and communication problems, as outlined below.
Additionally, many understaffed nursing homes use under-qualified employees. For example, the facility might ask patient care technicians to perform tasks that licensed vocational nurses should perform.
PCTs are able professionals, but they do not have the same training or experience as an LVN.
Understaffing also contributes to general nursing home negligence. The fewer staff members there are, the more conditions go unnoticed.
As for equipment, nursing homes are usually last on the list in terms of PPE, coronavirus tests, and other medical supplies.
Moreover, many of these facilities were unprepared for emergencies, like the COVID-19 outbreak.
Finally, many nursing homes have been slow to report coronavirus cases to public health officials and family members.
Since no one knows there is an issue, the problem gets worse.
It is uncertain whether nursing homeowners are behind this lack of communication. Frequently, owners downplay health emergencies so they can continue to attract patients.
What’s the Difference Between an Assisted Living Facility and a Nursing Home, and Why Does It Matter?
Assisted living facilities serve individuals who can live independently but need some supervision or some help with daily activities.
These facilities do not require CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) licenses.
Nursing homes provide a higher degree of medical care. Additionally, unlike assisted living facilities, nursing homes employ medical professionals and require CMS licenses.
The difference between the two matters, especially in COVID-19-related matters. Sixteen states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island, have granted immunity to nursing homes in these matters.
Similar healthcare immunity is available to New York nursing homes, but not to assisted living centers.
Immunity does not apply if there is evidence of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Arguably, if coronavirus kills a resident, someone was probably grossly negligent.
In non-coronavirus nursing home negligence matters, the standard of care for assisted living centers is sometimes lower than the standard of care for nursing homes, especially in medical negligence situations.
Non-COVID Nursing Home Neglect
Understaffing was an issue before the coronavirus outbreak. Facility understaffing contributes greatly to nursing home neglect instances such as:
- Malnutrition: As people age, their senses degrade. Frequently, food no longer smells, looks, or tastes good. As a result, many older people do not get adequate nourishment. Long-term care facilities should employ registered dieticians or other professionals to ensure that residents eat, but many times, there are no such workers.
- Bedsores: Pressure ulcers are not a problem if the person turns over in bed about once every four hours. But many nursing home residents are too weak or too medicated to turn themselves over. And, many of these facilities do not commit enough resources to patient rounds, especially during weekends, holidays, and other low-census periods.
- Falls: Nursing home patients often wander aimlessly. When they do so, they are not aware of signs like “Construction Zone Keep Out.” And, in understaffed environments, there is no one on duty to watch residents and make sure they do not wander into danger.
There is a difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
Abuse is intentional, and neglect is unintentional. Regardless of intent, or lack thereof, nursing home owners are usually still liable for resident injuries, as outlined below.
Your Legal Options
Nursing home neglect cases are usually complex. Several different legal theories are available. Selecting the wrong one could delay the case in court. Additionally, out-of-state conglomerates typically own nursing homes.
Bedsores often involve medical negligence.
Stage I bedsores are not serious at all. But Stages II and IV bedsores are potentially life-threatening. If the nursing home employee could not tell the difference between the different stages, medical negligence might apply.
Falls are usually premises liability matters. In New York, nursing homeowners usually have a duty of reasonable care to protect residents from fall injuries.
Additionally, a New York personal injury attorney must prove the owner knew about the fall hazard. This evidence can be direct or circumstantial.
60 percent of nursing home residents fall every year.
These falls cause both physical and emotional injuries. In addition to sustaining broken bones and other such wounds, many residents are so fearful of a repeat fall that they become prisoners in their own rooms.
Malnutrition usually involves ordinary negligence, or a lack of care.
Specifically, these cases often involve the standard of care in nursing homes. If a facility was below the standard of care, the facility was probably negligent.
Damages in a nursing home abuse claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Nursing home neglect victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We handle nursing home neglect cases on a nationwide basis.
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