Nursing Homes & The Coronavirus Outbreak

Nursing homes have struggled with the coronavirus outbreak. Residents in long-term care facilities and nursing homes are at high risk for COVID-19. Reasons for the high risk given by the Centers for Disease Control include the fact that many nursing home patients are elderly adults with underlying health conditions. Also, the nature of nursing homes, gathering many elders into a relatively enclosed space, makes it easier for the virus to spread.

According to an article in The New York Times, one third of the coronavirus fatalities in the United States are either nursing home residents or staff members of long-term care facilities. As of this writing, more than 153,000 nursing home residents and staff have been infected by COVID-19. Thousands of nursing home patients and staff members have died since the outbreak. Family members are alleging that negligence is a factor in many of those deaths. Our California elder law attorneys weigh in.

Nursing Homes Seek Immunity from COVID-19 Liability

The nursing home industry is aware of the liability that facilities may face because of the coronavirus pandemic. For that reason, the nursing home industry is pushing for immunity from lawsuits for employees and owners of long-term care facilities. Some states have granted nursing homes explicit immunity for nursing homes for coronavirus lawsuits. Other states have granted some level of immunity for nursing homes against COVID-19 lawsuits.

It is important to fight blanket immunity for nursing homes during the COVID-19 outbreak. Long-term care facilities that fail to take reasonable steps to protect and care for residents should be held liable for their negligence and recklessness. Immunity allows nursing homes that intentionally or carelessly breach their duty of care to their patients to go unpunished for their wrongdoing. Immunity prevents patients and families from seeking the justice they deserve. Even during a pandemic, long-term care facilities must be accountable to their patients and the patients’ families. 

Concerned Californians can contact Governor Gavin Newsom to express their opposition to blanket immunity for nursing homes. You can contact Governor Newsom’s office online or by calling (916) 445-2841. 

Nursing Homes and Infection Control Requirements 

Nursing homes have a duty to provide adequate care for their patients, which includes infection prevention and infection control. Some nursing homes have a history of failing to follow required infection-control measures. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the state, nursing homes in California should implement measures to control infection throughout their facilities.

Sadly, some facilities have failed to address the pandemic. Facilities failed to follow the state’s guidelines for nursing homes during the COVID-19 outbreak. They failed to limit access to the facility and ensure that staff members experiencing symptoms remained at home. Some facilities failed to provide the required PPE for staff members to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Nursing homes that failed to take reasonable steps to protect their patients from COVID-19 could be liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit or personal injury lawsuit. 

Contact a California Elder Law Attorney for More Information 

Families who fear for their loved one’s health and wellbeing can contact a California elder law attorney for help. Nursing homes can be held liable for negligence and incompetence. It may be crucial to pursue a claim now instead of waiting.