COVID-19 and Nursing Home Negligence - Is There a Connection?

It’s reported that roughly one in ten Americans over the age of sixty have experienced some form of elder abuse. A common form of elder abuse is nursing home negligence, which is described as the refusal or failure of a staff member to fulfill their obligations or duties to an elderly resident. Examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • Failure to provide medical care or oral/dental care
  • Failure to give residents regular baths
  • Failure to keep residents hydrated
  • Failure to complete range-of-motion exercises
  • Failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter
  • Failure to provide prescribed wound care (including for bedsores)
  • Failure to comply with safety standards when assisting patients with mobility issues
  • Failure to help residents when they ask for assistance

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, nursing homes are seeing an increase in deaths. Bill Tiano, of Tiano O’Dell Law Office, explains the connection between COVID-19 deaths and nursing home negligence.

Why are we seeing so many deaths occurring in our nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Fewer than one percent of Americans live in long-term care facilities, but forty percent of the COVID-related deaths have occurred there. Part of the reason this has occurred is lack of infection control. Nursing homes before COVID had problems with infection control. Now with COVID, there’s even more potential for the spread of infection. It’s everywhere, or the potential to be everywhere, so that is one explanation for this tremendous number of COVID-related deaths that are occurring to the most vulnerable of our population.

Have nursing homes seen a rise in nursing home negligence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?

There may very well be; however, it is very easy to sweep negligence into a COVID-related death. With the fact that family members cannot visit their loved ones in nursing homes, they don’t really know what is going on. There are no eyes overseeing what the staff is doing. When the state does inspect them, they issue paid reports on the inspection. The nursing home industry has introduced legislation that will shield these documents from public view. What kept the nursing home industry in check is the fear that these inspections and their deficiencies could be brought to the public’s attention.

What should you do if you suspect nursing home negligence?

If you have a medical power of attorney, by statute, you are allowed to request the records. You can contact an attorney to investigate the claim further. You can make a report to the West Virginia Department of Human Health Services as a long-term care facility investigation report. You can request they investigate a specific complaint and they will do this, it may not happen quickly, but they will eventually get to this. The quickest and easiest way to get that done is to hire an attorney, make the complaint, and then there will be some pressure for the long-term care facility to make a full and fair
evaluation. The attorney will be able to get the records and will be able to specifically look at your complaint because there are certain federal regulations which require that medical records have certain information in there with regard to a resident. There are specific details and information that go in the record.

If you have a loved one that you believe has suffered from nursing home negligence, please reach out to Tiano O’Dell for a free consultation. Tiano O’Dell will work with you on the matter to ease your mind and ensure others are not suffering from neglect, as well.