Life as we knew it has markedly changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals, families, businesses, hospitals, and multiple other entities are having to conduct things in ways they would never have imagined only a few months ago. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or a skilled living facility, you are likely worried about their safety and well-being during this pandemic, especially if there are others in the building that have doctors have diagnosed with coronavirus.
Sadly, nursing homes across California and the entire nation have become hot spots for the spread of this deadly virus. At the beginning of April 2020, authorities have identified over 400 nursing homes across the nation have as hotspots. If your loved one became infected with the virus while living in a nursing home or even died as a result, you need an experienced California personal injury lawyer on your side. You or your loved one could be entitled to damages based on the negligent actions of the nursing home and its staff members.
Increased Risk for Infection in Nursing Homes
For many reasons, nursing homes are places where infections can spread rapidly have caused serious illness. The same is true but even more severe with COVID-19. These facilities have many residents living in close quarters. They can pass bacteria and viruses to one another just by being in close contact. When staff members are not following infection control protocols, such as strict handwashing, wearing personal protective equipment, and frequent cleaning, the risk for spreading infection increases.
To make matters worse, the elderly are a high-risk population for infections in general. With coronavirus, these risks seem even higher. If infected with COVID-19, they are at a higher risk for complications and even death.
COVID-19 Related Concerns about Nursing Home Residents
The nation’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide care to over 1.7 million residents. Here they receive medical care, have opportunities to participate in activities, and have social interaction. Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care that most family members cannot provide on their own. The COVID-19 pandemic has nearly everyone American worried about several things. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, their well-being is probably one of your top concerns.
Families of nursing home residents are facing many concerns right now; the biggest concern is the health and well-being of their loved ones. For some residents, decreased social interaction within the home and not being able to see their family members is also a worry. Older Americans are already at an increased risk of depression and loneliness. Taking away their social interactions and their ability to see their families can increase this risk.
Should You Bring Your Loved One Home?
For these reasons, you might be considering a temporary move for your loved one. Keep in mind that taking your loved one out of the facility will not ensure that they are safe from COVID-19. Whether or not you bring your loved one home is an individual decision that should take into account many factors. For most families, the answer will be no. These factors include:
- Will you be permitted to visit them in the facility? Many nursing homes are not allowing visitors during the pandemic.
- If your loved one temporarily moves out, will their return to the facility be restricted later? You want to ensure that when it is time for them to move back that they will be able to do so.
- How will the move affect your family? For some families, caring for an older family member can be quite burdensome, especially during this already stressful time.
- Can you practice reasonable infection control at your house? Even in your home, you will need to ensure you do your best to keep your family member protected from COVID-19.
- Will your home be easily accessible to your loved one? Many elderly Americans need ramps and grab bars in the restroom. Caregivers should minimize tripping hazards to prevent falls, which can be difficult. Your family member may not be able to navigate the stairs.
Questions You Should Ask the Nursing Facility
There are questions you should ask the nursing home regarding their protocols and the care of residents during the COVID-19 crisis. Remember that loved one’s greatest advocate. Be sure to ask these questions:
- What is your quarantine policy?
- How are you decreasing the infection risk?
- How is the nursing home ensuring its staff does not get infected?
- Do the staff members have adequate personal protective equipment to protect them from infection?
- Is the staff trained on how to use personal protective equipment properly?
- Are you screening staff members for signs of illness such as a fever before starting their shift?
- How are they educating residents about their risks?
- What are they doing when they find out somebody has COVID-19? The California Department of Public Health provides updated reports on nursing homes within the state that have residents diagnosed with the virus.
- What actions do they take to make sure it does not spread?
- Are they following the guidelines set out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services?
- What will happen if residents get a coronavirus infection after moving out and need medical attention?
- Is transferring to a hospital or ICU easier or if your loved one is living in the facility?
- What will happen if your family member gets an infection after moving out and later recovers? Will the nursing home let them move back in?
- What are my loved one’s care and medical needs? Examining a synopsis of their required care can help you decide whether you and your household will be able to meet all of their needs at home.
- What is the procedure and criteria for getting a family member out of a skilled nursing facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what is the process for when they are ready to return?
If the nursing home does not provide sufficient or satisfactory answers to your questions, it might be time to reach out to a California nursing home abuse lawyer or personal injury accident attorney and explore your options.
Stay Involved and Up to Date With the Nursing Facility
Generally, when people are aware that others are monitoring them, they follow protocols and behave better. The same is true for nursing homes and their staff. Even though you should not be able to physically enter the building at this time, that does not mean you cannot be well-informed. If you ask for updates and are frequently checking in to see how they are handling any positive coronavirus cases, there could be better outcomes. This fact is especially true if several families are staying involved.
Anytime you have a conversation with employees at the nursing facility or your loved one there, you should document it. If you communicate with your loved one via Zoom, Facetime, or another video platform, recording those encounters can also be helpful. If you believe the nursing home is not taking the proper precautions or following guidelines, engaging experienced California personal injury attorneys can also be beneficial. Just like monitoring them can improve their actions, having legal representation can do the same.
Is the Nursing Home at Fault?
All nursing homes have specific laws they must follow and protocols they must adhere to. In many cases, if they do not, and someone is hurt or injured, a California personal injury lawyer could file a claim on behalf of the resident or their family.
When coronavirus spreads through a nursing home, likely, the nursing home and its staff are not doing all they can to prevent the spread and protect their residents. They owe their residents and their families a duty of care. In the case of this virus, their duty of care is to strictly adhere to laws and guidelines and use best practices regarding infection control. Even a small failure in these areas can produce significant adverse results. By not following their duty of care, they put residents at risk. Something as simple as not wearing personal protective equipment, not washing hands, or letting a sick employee come to work can cause severe illness or even death of multiple residents.
A valid personal injury or wrongful death claim will include the following factors:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant failed to uphold their duty of care
- Due to this failure, the plaintiff suffered an injury such as being infected with coronavirus or even dying as a result
- The plaintiff’s injury caused damages such as pain and suffering, medical bills, and loss of enjoyment of life
Meeting with a seasoned California personal injury attorney should be your next step if you suspect that your loved one’s nursing facility negligently caused them to get the virus or if they succumbed to the virus.
A California Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Nursing homes, in general, have a long history of being fraught with problems, usually involving abuse or neglect of residents’ basic needs. With the onset of widespread COVID-19, not taking every step they can to prevent its spread and protect their residents is neglect. If your aging family member in a nursing home is diagnosed with coronavirus or lost their life to it, you have legal rights.
Get in touch with a well-versed California personal injury attorney from Arash Law to discuss the conditions and circumstances at your loved one’s nursing home. You could have a valid legal claim for negligence. As such, you or your loved one deserve compensation for your suffering.
Contact Arash Law today by phone (888) 488-1391 or online to receive your free case consultation. Our team of highly experienced nursing home abuse attorneys has recovered over 200 million dollars for clients. We have decades of experience seeking justice for personal injury plaintiffs in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California.