Were Coronavirus Nursing Home Deaths Preventable?
While the coronavirus has affected the health of millions of people, certain individuals have proven to be at an especially high risk of contracting the virus. For instance, the New York Times reports that while only seven percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases have occurred in long-term care facilities, deaths in these same facilities account for nearly 40 percent of COVID-19-related fatalities. In fact, in 18 states, the number of residents and employees at nursing homes who have passed away as a result of COVID-19 account for at least half of all coronavirus-related deaths. While this trend can partly be attributed to the fact that elderly individuals and those with preexisting conditions (the majority of nursing home populations) are at much higher risk of infection, there is also evidence that many facilities could have prevented a significant number of fatalities if they had implemented proper infection control measures and provided adequate medical care to residents.
Investigations into these cases is still ongoing, but some nursing homes will undoubtedly be held liable for their failure to provide residents with proper care, so if your loved one was infected with the coronavirus and you have concerns about the level of care being provided at his or her nursing home, you should reach out to an experienced Wilkes Barre nursing home wrongful death lawyer (COVID-19) who can walk you through your legal options.
A Failure to Prepare
The first COVID-19 outbreak in U.S. nursing homes occurred in Seattle, Washington in late February. However, despite the fact that the nursing home industry had months of warnings from officials about the risks that the coronavirus posed to nursing home residents, many failed to use the opportunity to prepare, often because they could not obtain basic assistance and equipment or testing supplies. Furthermore, staffing shortages may have also made it difficult to execute infection control policies or to adapt them to the existing situation. Some have posited that much of the lack of preparation amongst nursing homes can be attributed to the federal government’s failure to give nursing homes the same level of support as was given to hospitals.
Violations of Infection Control Standards
Although the federal government’s failure to act may have affected the severity of the COVID-19 outbreaks in U.S. nursing homes, this lack of support was only compounded by problems that have long existed in the nursing home industry, such as understaffing and diminishing quality of care. One recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, for instance, found that around half of all U.S. nursing homes routinely violate infection control standards, including protocol regarding the isolation of ill residents, while another study revealed that more than 40 percent of nursing homes didn’t have an emergency response plan in place when the pandemic started.
Legal Advice When in Need
To speak with an experienced Pennsylvania wrongful death nursing home lawyer (COVID-19) about your own suspicions regarding your loved one’s contracting of the coronavirus, please reach out to Keith Figured at the Figured Law Firm for assistance by calling 570-954-9299.