Although nursing homes are equipped with infection control recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and required to follow them by state and local health agencies – they simply are not. USA TODAY is reporting that “75% of U.S. nursing homes have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the last three years — a higher proportion than previously known.” These failures, often controlled by understaffed shifts, overworked caregivers, and less than 10% of facilities with infection-control specialty trained staff, all provide proof to predict that nursing homes are going to have even a tougher time preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Steven Levin, founding partner and attorney at Levin & Perconti, recently spoke to USA TODAY on the dangerous yet stagnant issue of the spread of infectious disease in nursing homes, remarking that, “The nursing homes that we deal with have extreme difficulty in handling everyday infections, and it’s an infection-rich environment.”
Read the USA TODAY article titled, Coronavirus a concern in nursing homes, where 75% have been cited for infection control errors, here.
On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, CMS announced that its inspections would immediately change the focus of future long-term care facility inspections towards primary needs such as controlling infection, including coronavirus and the spread of the flu while continuing investigations of abuse and neglect. But will the urgency to police the practices that may spread COVID-19 be enough? At Levin & Perconti, we aren’t convinced.
Nursing Home Staffers are Overworked and Living on Poor Incomes
Many nursing homes remain chronically understaffed, causing ongoing struggles related to meeting resident care needs and stressful work hours due to managing the care of far too many sick individuals. In these homes, basic hygiene practices and hand-washing becomes relaxed, tending to the changing and cleaning of dirty linens, and working to prevent the spread of any infections are at the bottom of many workers’ to-do lists. Also, nursing home care workers across the country are making poverty-level wages with minimal access to approved sick leave or the paid time off required to recover from an illness like COVID-19. These shortcomings quickly become crucial indicators that an outbreak in a facility or the spread of infectious disease within their personal communities is likely. Any shortages in staff to prevent diseases from spreading could leave facilities accountable for infectious disease-related deaths.
From Nursing Home Facilities to Community Hospitals
The CDC says as many as 380,000 people living in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, die of infections each year, and similar studies suggest 1.5 million Americans of those residents, may get an infection every other year, resulting in 150,000 hospitalizations. Hospitals should also be prepared for the spread of infectious diseases.
Respected Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys
If a loved one has sustained a serious infectious disease complication resulting from neglect or missed medical treatments provided by a nursing home or due to a dangerously low level of care staff, they may be entitled to compensation. Please reach out to Levin & Perconti now for a free consultation at (312) 332-2872.
What should nursing home staff be doing to prevent and control COVID-19?
A bunch of things. Wearing personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer before and after contact with each resident, after using medical equipment and after taking off masks and gloves. They should be placing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in all resident care areas, including both inside and outside resident rooms, practicing appropriate cough etiquette hygiene, staying home when sick, cleaning residents’ hands after toileting or eating, cleaning and disinfecting medical equipment between residents and areas of the facility.
If you have any additional questions, you can still reach our attorneys at Levin & Perconti. We are staying safe and working largely remotely, but all of the calls to our main office could be routed to individual attorneys or staff members if you have questions, or you can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, that’s email@example.com. My name is Mike Bonamarte. I appreciate your time, please stay safe.