The COVID-19 epidemic is more dangerous for older people and those with preexisting conditions. Nursing homes have been some of the hardest hit locations for people dying from the virus. Many people living in close quarters makes it easier for the disease to spread. Health care workers who come and go to work in a nursing home may introduce the disease when they do not show signs of infection.
Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are taking the necessary precautions. According to a newspaper article in Ontario’s The Star, for-profit nursing homes have 4 times as many COVID-19 deaths as city-run homes. Nursing homes may not properly clean and sanitize the area, quarantine sick residents, or make sure workers are not sick when they come to work.
Some states are passing laws to protect nursing homes from lawsuits, even if the nursing homes are negligent in causing injury or death to the residents.
States Passing Laws to Protect Nursing Homes Instead of Patients
Nursing home residents and their families can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for injury or death caused by negligence, intentional abuse, or malpractice. A nursing home negligence lawsuit can seek damages from the nursing home business which is responsible for injuries, harm, or death of a nursing home resident.
A number of states are passing or considering passage of bills that give nursing homes immunity from negligence lawsuits. The nursing home industry is big business and trade groups are lobbying lawmakers for special treatment during the coronavirus outbreak.
In Ohio, a bill was introduced that would expand protections for health care services, including nursing homes, to clear the nursing homes of liability for illness or death from their actions during the disaster. The sponsors claim that the bill would immunity for those who are trying to do their job. However, it also protects nursing home employees and the nursing home from recklessness or negligence that injures or kills residents.
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and Arizona have all issued similar protections through executive order. Nursing homes will be immune from civil lawsuits from negligence during the coronavirus outbreak. There are limited exceptions if the nursing home is grossly negligent or intentionally harms the residents.
Illinois Healthcare Facility Shield
Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order in April that grants immunity from civil liability to health care workers and health care facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak. The definition of a healthcare facility specifically includes nursing homes maintained by the state or any state department or agency.
Executive Order 2020-19 provides that health care facilities shall be immune from civil liability for any injury or death alleged to have been caused by any act or omission, which occurred at a time when the facility was providing health care services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The exception to the immunity requires showing that the injury or death was caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct of the health care facility, a much higher burden of proof.
Why Broad Immunity is Dangerous for Nursing Home Residents?
Many of these nursing home immunity laws and executive orders go too far and end up protecting the corporations instead of the elderly and vulnerable nursing home residents. Some of these laws protect the companies against negligence that occurs during the COVID-19 outbreak even if the injury or death is not caused by COVID-19.
For example, an immobile nursing home resident at risk for bedsores may need to be turned every 2 hours to reduce pressure ulcers. The nursing home only turns the patient 1 time per day because they say they do not have enough staff. The nursing home resident gets serious bedsores, leading to infection and sepsis. If the nursing home resident died, the nursing home may be able to claim immunity from their negligence because it happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aurora and Chicago Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer
There is no excuse for abuse or negligence of nursing home residents, even during the COVID-19 emergency. Victims of nursing home abuse and their families can take action to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Contact the Cullotta Bravo Law Group today at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free consultation.