COVID DATA FOR NURSING HOMES CAN OBSCURE ABUSE AND NEGLECT
New nursing home data just released by the state shows an additional 128 deaths than were previously reported, an increase of about 10%, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Those residents, reports show, make up 53% of Indiana’s coronavirus deaths!
Dr. Dan Rusyniak, chief medical officer of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, attributes the increase in numbers to two factors:
- increased reporting of data by the facilities
- facilities admitting patients from hospitals who had been there because of COVID
“While the U.S. government’s slow and patchy response to the pandemic has made nursing homes’ jobs harder, so have the problems the industry faced long before COVID-19 erupted,” Abigail Adams wrote in TIME. The conflicting results:
- Some nursing home residents are suing nursing homes for neglect, abuse, and wrongful death.
- The nursing home industry has launched a lobbying effort to secure immunity from lawsuits, saying legal protections are necessary for staff to do their jobs.
As personal injury attorneys, at Ramey & Hailey Law we believe providing legal immunity to private companies who run nursing homes is dangerous. For many, many years no, facilities have underinvested in infection control and abuse protection measures. With visitations from family members severely restricted due to the pandemic, that “extra set of eyes and ears” is missing that can detect signs of abuse and neglect.
Even before the pandemic struck, the Department of Health and Human Services had determined that one in every five visits to a hospital by a nursing home patient was the result of abuse and that frequently, incidents of abuse went unreported.
Only through the combination of government monitoring programs and civil court litigation by individuals hurt through nursing home abuse and neglect is there a path to improvement.
When care facilities fail to adhere to the appropriate standards, that is actually a type of medical negligence. After all, family members trust caregivers in the nursing home to alleviate their loved ones’ suffering, doing everything they can to preserve their relatives’ quality of life. When the level of dedicated effort is not being put forth – even given the challenges of COVID-19 – family members need to be able to sue to recover damages.