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Nursing Home Neglect During the Coronavirus Outbreak in California

Coronavirus (COVID-19) concept

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults have a higher risk of suffering serious complications due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that during the coronavirus pandemic, elderly individuals are more vulnerable to suffering serious harm and more likely to lose their lives to this deadly virus. In fact, it is estimated that 13.4 percent of coronavirus patients over the age of 80 will lose their lives. Many of these seniors may live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities across the country.

Coronavirus and California Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and long term care facilities have been on heightened alert during the coronavirus outbreak and many have instituted strict visitation policies. They have also suspended all group activities and communal dining to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these measures have not prevented coronavirus infections.

The California Department of Health (CDPH) has published recent information about confirmed cases and deaths in California nursing homes. As of April 29, 2020, more than 663 nursing home residents in California have died due to coronavirus complications.

Nursing Homes Owe Residents a Duty of Care

During the COVID-19 outbreak, nursing homes and assisted living facilities owe residents a duty of care. Under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, failure to protect elders and dependent adults from health and safety hazards constitutes elder neglect. Though coronavirus is a new disease, contagious diseases are not. Nursing homes should be equipped to protect residents and staff from disease.

According to NBC Bay Area, three Santa Clara County facilities recently failed federal COVID-19 inspections for “failing to adhere to standards related to hand washing and personal protective equipment and patient monitoring.” Elderly residents in nursing homes are at an increased risk of dying from the virus. To protect residents and staff from coronavirus, it is strongly recommended that facilities follow all CDC guidelines. Some of these precautions include, but are not limited to:

  • Enforce policies and procedures for visitors
  • Provide supplies necessary to adhere to infection prevention and control (i.e. proper handwashing, personal protective equipment)
  • Dedicate space in the facility to monitor and care for residents with COVID-19
  • Monitor residents with symptoms of COVID-19
  • Enforce policies and procedures for visitors

Nursing home residents and their families are rightfully scared during this pandemic. They trust the nursing home facility and caregivers to protect their loved ones. This includes taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, not every nursing home is administering the appropriate safety measures and elder care during the coronavirus outbreak.

What happens if a nursing home fails to take reasonable measures to stop the spread of the virus? Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities may not be equipped or prepared to handle the spread of coronavirus. Residents or their loved ones may have a valid claim if they contracted or died from COVID-19. We recommend that you speak with our nursing home lawyers about your situation and the legal options that may be available to you during a free consultation.

Contact Our Elder Abuse Lawyers to Discuss Your Situation

Our compassionate elder abuse lawyers know that residents and families need help during this difficult time. At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, we work to protect elders and their families from nursing home abuse and neglect. Call us at (408) 956-6949 or fill out our confidential contact form to set up a free initial consultation.