Nursing homes have been at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic. According to recent data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,602 nursing home residents and staff members have died in the state of Alabama due to coronavirus. Of those who have died, 879 were nursing home residents and 723 were staff members. Alabama nursing homes have had just over 300 coronavirus cases for every 1,000 nursing home residents, making Alabama the sixth highest state out of all 50 states when it comes to coronavirus deaths for nursing home residents.
Nursing Homes Owe Residents a Duty of Care
Alabama nursing homes and assisted living facilities have suffered disproportionately when it comes to coronavirus illness and death. A coroner in Louisiana recently reported that some Louisiana nursing homes were undercounting their coronavirus deaths. In Nebraska, over 40% of coronavirus deaths have been in nursing home facilities. While it is impossible for nursing homes to completely stop coronavirus from entering their facility, nursing home administrators have a legal duty to use reasonable care to prevent the spread of coronavirus to their residents, many of whom have pre-existing conditions and are extremely vulnerable to the virus.
Wrongful Death Due to COVID-19
Alabama nursing homes had already been under scrutiny for many different health code violations before the coronavirus pandemic began. Sadly, Alabama nursing homes have a reputation for being understaffed, and for not preventing elder abuse and neglect. In frail Alabama nursing home residents, the coronavirus can prove to be lethal. The older the age of the patient who contracts coronavirus, the more risk that the patient will succumb to the virus.
Nursing homes across the country are now well aware of how dangerous the coronavirus is and what they must do to prevent a virus from spreading among their vulnerable patients. When nursing homes fail to use reasonable care to protect their patients and staff, and as a result a patient or staff member dies from the coronavirus, the deceased person’s estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The deceased individual estate will need to prove that the nursing home failed to use reasonable care when caring for the deceased loved one. In some cases, nursing homes and long-term care facilities do not have enough protective facial masks or antibacterial hand soap, both of which are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19. In other cases, nursing homes may only be operating at 50% or less of their usual staff members because their staff members are showing symptoms of coronavirus and call out sick. During a pandemic, it is essential that nursing homes have all hands on deck so they can have enough staff to sanitize the facilities properly to prevent more spread.
Nursing home administrators also have a duty to ensure that they do not allow sick staff members to come to work. Managers need to implement policies to check the temperatures of staff, and Screen staff members so that any staff members who are showing symptoms of coronavirus stay home. If a staff member has a fever and a cough comes into work, for example, the coronavirus could spread like wildfire throughout the facility and result in several deaths. We saw this happen in Washington state at the beginning of the pandemic; a few nursing homes suffered very high casualty rates due to the coronavirus spreading among staff members and residents.
Providing Proper Medical Treatment
Nursing homes also have a legal duty to provide quality medical care to residents who do contract to the coronavirus. When patients are severely affected by the coronavirus, they require around-the-clock care. Staff should also be constantly vigilant about detecting coronavirus symptoms in the residents so they can offer them treatment and remove them from the nursing home to keep the other residents safe.
As soon as a resident shows symptoms of coronavirus, the nursing home should quickly isolate that patient and quarantine them for the appropriate amount of time. When nursing homes fail to isolate an infected patient, the virus can spread rapidly. Likewise, nursing homes need to restrict vendors, caretakers, and visitors and ensure that anyone who does enter the facilities does not have any symptoms of coronavirus.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If your loved one has passed away from coronavirus while in a nursing home, you may have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact Heninger Garrison Davis today to schedule your initial consultation.