IN THE NEWS: INDIANA UNDERCOUNTING COVID-19 DEATHS?
200 deaths is too big a number to ignore by anyone’s standard, but it appears that Indiana has been undercounting COVID-19 deaths by at least that amount. The new data released by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services are showing us “the rest of the story”. “AARP, one of the nation’s largest senior advocacy groups, called the discrepancies between the state and federal data ‘incredibly concerning’,” IndyStar reported.
Whichever the precise correct total, at Ramey & Hailey Law, where for more than 40 years, we have been helping families deal with nursing home abuse and neglect, we find the numbers incredibly concerning. As we reported last month, nursing homes with COVID-19 have been violating federal infection control rules for years.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic became the subject of US headlines, careless practices in nursing homes and assisted living facilities were resulting in outbreaks of respiratory illness and death. Since research has found that family involvement during a nursing home stay goes a long way towards preventing neglect and abuse, COVID-dictated visitation restrictions and lockdowns have made the situation even more dangerous for thousands of elderly residents.
There is growing outrage, WTHR reports, about the fact that families of nursing home residents have been largely unable to get information about where the virus is and how it is spreading. Meanwhile, a WRTV6 team has compiled a database, which it continuously updates, of actual facilities and the number of Coronavirus cases and deaths in each.
Will lawsuits follow? In a word, yes, says Expert Institute, based on accusations of negligence by owners of – and employees of – long-term care and senior living facilities.
Will lawsuits help? At Ramey & Hailey Law, we know there are two – and only two – paths towards improving the situation in nursing homes. The first is monitoring programs; the second is through civil court litigation.