Liability of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
The Coronavirus did not take the world by surprise. As early as December 2019 this contagious respiratory disease was first detected in China. In 2019 the CDC issued Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations. In January 2020 President Trump was warned by one of his top White House advisers that the coronavirus had the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, especially elderly in nursing homes and similar facilities. In February 2020 a deadly outbreak of coronavirus at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington claimed the lives of at least 35 elderly residents.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have always been legally required to be prepared for any and all infection outbreaks. This requires having a plan to deal with infection outbreak, adequate staffing, common sense preventative measures, proper resident isolation, and staff education about prevention and safety. They must also be fully transparent to residents and families about infection risk, the measures the facility is prepared to take to combat outbreaks, and their ability to provide for resident safety.
The Coronavirus be successfully treated if recognized early. Once suspected proper treatment must be implemented including transfer to a hospital. If an infection cannot be contained and resident safety is jeopardized, nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be prepared to tell appropriate patients and their families that temporary relocation from the facility may be the safest course of action. This is not something such facilities like to do because when patients leave facility revenue drops.
Regardless of whether the coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes is unprecedented, it is clear that that certain facilities were unprepared and failed to follow state and federal regulations regarding infection control. The failure to prepare for containment of infectious disease are grounds for a coronavirus lawsuit against the nursing home or assisted living facility corporation. Failing to implement appropriate coronavirus prevention measures may result in legal liability of the negligent nursing home or assisted living facility.
Nursing homes are required to maintain a record of infection control incidents and preventative actions taken. When investigating a potential COVID-19 lawsuit against a nursing home, attorneys request a copy of this infection control record. This document should contain not only potential coronavirus incidents, but more importantly, the steps taken to prevent the further spread of the disease. Our retained infectious disease expert then compares the facility response to the applicable standard of care. This is how our lawyers determine if the appropriate efforts were made to stop coronavirus in the nursing home or ALF.
To learn more, contact our firm for a free consultation.