COVID-19 Nursing Home Death Lawsuits in California
Holding Nursing Homes Accountable for Preventable Coronavirus Deaths
When the novel coronavirus first started to spread in the United States, many of the first reported cases happened at a nursing home. At LifeCare Center in Kirkland, Washington, more than 129 residents became ill with COVID-19, with 37 cases proving lethal. Unfortunately, like many nursing homes across the country, the facility was ill-equipped, under-prepared, and understaffed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis – and now, the Seattle-area nursing home is facing over $600,000 in fines from the government due to its dangerous deficiencies.
This story is not unique, either: From coast to coast, nursing homes have been under siege against the threat of COVID-19, which is most deadly to the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. While not all coronavirus-related deaths among seniors may be preventable, nursing homes have a stronger responsibility than ever to maintain required staffing levels for medical personnel, keep the facility clean, and seek emergency care for residents when needed. If a nursing home fails in its responsibility, it may ultimately be liable for any COVID-19 deaths that could have been prevented.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our California nursing home abuse attorneys are ready to represent families who have lost loved ones to the virus in a long-term care or skilled nursing facility. Contact us at (866) 634-4525 for a free remote consultation.
What Are Nursing Homes Required to Do for Residents?
The COVID-19 pandemic caught most institutions by surprise. However, under both state and federal laws, nursing homes were already required to maintain appropriate levels of staffing to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as meet other important care requirements that could help avoid unnecessary COVID-19 infections. In the wake of a pandemic, any existing lapses in care become even more deadly for nursing home residents.
In California, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) must provide the following to their residents to qualify for federal funding:
- Nutritious, high-quality food at regular meal times
- Sufficient hydration and fluids
- Infection control procedures
- Personal care and grooming assistance
- Physician and emergency services
- Catheters, IVs, toileting assistance, and feeding tubes as required
- Adequate nursing time (at least 3.2 hours per resident per day)
- Accommodation of individual resident needs
- Nursing home care plans
- Constant or regular supervision for high-risk residents
- Regular activity to avoid pressure sores and other complications
In addition to the basic requirements listed above, nursing homes must now report any COVID-19 cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within 12 hours of confirmation. Facilities must also tell families about new respiratory symptoms in their loved ones within a period of 72 hours. Lastly, nursing homes are also required to obey all existing California executive orders and social distancing guidelines, and under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these facilities may be legally required to offer sufficient personal protective equipment for workers as well.
When Is a Nursing Home Liable for Wrongful Death?
As of April 23, 2020, the California Department of Public Health has reported that over 258 skilled nursing facilities in California have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 among staff and residents, with more than half the outbreaks popping up in Los Angeles nursing home facilities. Because seniors do face heightened risks of COVID-19 infection – especially when living in close quarters with other seniors – nursing homes and staff members who fail to observe the duty of care may be held civilly liable for the wrongful deaths of residents.
If you believe that nursing home negligence or neglect caused your loved one to pass away due to COVID-19, our attorneys at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP are here to help you through this difficult time. By investigating the underlying cause of your loved one’s death, we may be able to identify any responsible parties and help you pursue legal action against the facility. With over a century of experience, we’ve recovered many high-value settlements and verdicts for victims of nursing home negligence and neglect, because we have the skills, resources, and drive to seek justice for our clients.
For more information about how we can help, we invite you to contact our legal team at (866) 634-4525 today. Based in Los Angeles, our award-winning attorneys serve clients in California and nationwide.
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