Nursing homes in Riverside County and throughout California and the country are facing lawsuits related to COVID-19 infections and deaths among residents. Many nursing homes are arguing that they could not have taken any additional steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, yet skilled nursing facilities are required to have particular infection-control measures in place.
In fact, in early April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities about the types of infection-control methods that would be necessary “to keep patients and residents safe.” The guidance helps to provide clarity for the types of actions (or inactions) for which a nursing home or assisted-living facility may be liable if a patient contracts COVID-19 and suffers a serious infection or dies as a result of that infection.
Actions to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 at Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities
According to the guidance, CMS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to take some of the following steps in order to reduce the rate or prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections:
- Require all staff members and any other persons at long-term care facilities to adhere to the CDC’s guidance on hand hygiene and hand washing;
- Reviewing the CMS infection control guidance and self-assessment checklist;
- Implement screening procedures for every individual in a long-term care facility, including residents, staff, visitors, outside health workers who enter the facility, vendors, and anyone else;
- Limit access to the long-term care facility for anyone who does not live or work there;
- Check every resident’s temperature and check for other COVID-19 symptoms every day;
- Require all staff to use personal protective equipment (PPE) according to CDC guidelines;
- Use separate staffing teams for patients who test positive for COVID-19 to avoid spreading the virus to other patients and residents;
- Separate patients and residents who test positive for COVID-19; and
- Inform family members of patients and residents when there is a positive COVID-19 test.
Facilities that fail to take any of the actions listed above, or that fail to implement any of the safety guidance provided by CMS, ultimately could be liable for injuries and deaths resulting from COVID-19 infection in the facility.
What to do if a Loved One Contracts COVID-19
If an elderly loved one contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care facility in Southern California, you should speak with an experienced nursing home negligence lawyer about the case. It will be important to conduct an investigation to determine how the facility responded to infection-control guidance, and whether there are any clear indications of the facility’s negligence. Failing to implement the recommended procedures provided in the CMS guidance ultimately could be evidence of the facility’s liability for a severe or deadly COVID-19 infection.
Contact a Riverside County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Do you have questions about filing a lawsuit against a nursing home? If you have a family member who contracted COVID-19 and suffered a severe infection or died from the infection, it may be possible to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit. An experienced Riverside County nursing home abuse lawyer can speak with you about your options. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more.
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