Nursing Home Negligence and COVID-19

Aging loved ones and adults with special needs require a level of care that oftentimes is not possible for their family members to administer at home. To provide the highest level of care and safety, many families entrust their loved ones to a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Because nursing home residents live in close quarters and persons over 65 and those with preexisting health conditions constitute those in our population with the highest risk for contracting coronavirus, many expect their nursing home to strictly adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Tragically, reports abound alleging that certain nursing homes and long-term care facilities have not followed even the basic recommended health protocols to prevent the spread of infection within their facilities. Consequently, some nursing homes in New Jersey have unusually high COVID-19 infection rates within their facilities, resulting in a high number of deaths.

Nursing Home Quality of Care Complaints

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the federal agency that is responsible for regulating nursing homes. It is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. In recent years, a large volume of complaints concerning quality of care in nursing homes around the country stimulated the evaluation and review of facilities by CMS, resulting in the introduction of a five-star rating system of facilities, which may be accessed here at the Medicare website

COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidance Issued

In March 2020, CMS issued COVID-19 infection control guidance for nursing homes to follow during this national health emergency. This guidance can be accessed here on the CMS website

On April 16, 2020, New Jersey launched an investigation into nursing home deaths across the state after officials discovered 17 deceased and more than 100 residents infected with COVID-19 at a long-term care facility. 

Complaints against nursing homes and long-care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Failure to mandate the use of available personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Failure to notify patients and their families about positive diagnoses within the facility
  • Failure to implement social distancing guidelines
  • Failure to protect their staff from infection
  • Failure to restrict guest access
  • Failure to quarantine those with symptoms or those who have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 (or symptoms)

Have you lost a loved one while in the care of a nursing home to COVID-19?  If you believe that the facility was negligent in following mandated health and safety protocols for preventing the spread of infection within their facility, call Wilentz for a free case review.

Nursing Home Infection Control Responsibilities

Infection control in nursing homes has been practiced for years. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are responsible for ensuring the safety and health of patients. Although some COVID-19 infections cannot be prevented, nursing homes can prevent or limit the spread of the infection inside their facilities by taking necessary precautions and closely adhering to CDC and health guidelines such as:

  • Mandating use of PPE for staff and guests alike. These include face masks, shields, gowns and gloves to keep their patients and employees safe
  • Limiting and monitoring outsiders who visit their facility
  • Adopting social distancing
  • Removing patients and/or employees who have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Reporting confirmed and/or suspected cases of COVID-19 to patients and their families

The CDC has published Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.  

The New Jersey Department of Health has also posted recommendations for Long-Term Care facilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This guidance can be found here.

Have you lost a loved one while in the care of a nursing home to COVID-19?  If you believe that the facility was negligent in following mandated health and safety protocols for preventing the spread of infection within their facility, call Wilentz for a free case review.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey

If you have lost a loved one, the first thing that you should understand is when filing a wrongful death claim is appropriate and who can bring forth a claim in our state. Per New Jersey’s wrongful death statute, a wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate when the negligence of the defendant (the party against whom suit is being filed) was the direct cause of the decedent’s death, and the decedent would have been able to pursue a personal injury claim against the defendant had death not resulted. A wrongful death claim is filed by the representative of the decedent, and seeks to establish the negligence of the defendant, as well as causation, in order to recover financial compensation for the decedent’s survivors.

In New Jersey, the personal executor of the deceased person’s estate, or the deceased person’s personal representative, may file a wrongful death suit. Damages resulting from the suit may be recovered on behalf of the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, nieces and nephews, or anyone else that was financially dependent on the deceased person at the time of his or her death.

Additionally, in New Jersey, representatives of any individual who has died at a nursing home due to negligence may also pursue a claim for the unfortunate pain and suffering that the patient experienced prior to their death.

Experienced Lawyers To Help You Understand Your Legal Options

At Wilentz, our wrongful death lawyers will also handle your entire claim for you, so that you can focus on the more important things in life, like caring for yourself and your family. This means that we will manage the investigation of your claim, the hiring of experts and medical professionals, the filing of your claim, negotiations and medications, and litigation if necessary. We recognize the sensitive nature of wrongful death cases, and will approach your case with compassion and understanding.

A case review by one of our seasoned wrongful death attorneys is free, and we do not charge any upfront or hidden fees. You can request your case consultation by calling our offices directly, or by filling out our contact form below.