Nursing home neglect can have severe consequences for elderly residents. It can lead to poor hygiene and dangerous health consequences, such as an increased risk of infection, if a nursing home staff member fails to follow sanitation guidelines. Sadly, many nursing homes throughout New York fail to meet the minimum standards for our loved ones, often resulting in serious illnesses and injuries.
If you or your loved one has developed an infection due to neglect in a nursing home, you may have a claim for compensation against the facility. To ensure not a single detail is missed in your case, contact the New York nursing home infections attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Our legal team can advocate for you or your loved ones right to compensation in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to learn what options are available to you.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to keep their residents healthy and safe from all types of harm, including infections. When a contagious disease is present in the facility, they have an obligation to take extra precautions to prevent the disease from spreading and infecting elderly residents. In addition, nursing homes also have a responsibility to prevent or correctly treat common diseases suffered by elderly residents, including bedsores. When they fail to do so, your loved one’s life can be put at risk.
More than 1.5 million people living in nursing homes in the United States suffer an average of 2 million infections a year, as reported by Aging Health. Among these infections, the most common ones suffered by elderly residents include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory infections
- Skin and soft tissue infections
- Gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea)
- MRSA (antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection)
Understaffing and lack of proper training are major contributing factors to infections and the poor treatment of residents in nursing homes. When caregivers are untrained, overworked, and underpaid, they are less likely to fulfill all of their duties and are far more likely to make mistakes or ignore a resident’s needs. But this is no excuse for their behavior. Staff members and administrators should always work to maximize the safety and health of their residents, otherwise, they may be found liable for any injuries they caused through their inaction.
Another factor is the failure to vet employees. Before hiring nursing home staff, facilities should run background and criminal record checks that account for any prior convictions or staffing issues at other facilities. In addition, they should thoroughly interview applicants to eliminate candidates that are not well-suited to be caregivers.
Lastly, nursing homes are required by federal law to have Infection Prevention and Control Programs (IPCP) in place to stop the spread of serious illnesses. These plans were designed to respond to the seasonal flu but are also effective against diseases like SARS and COVID-19. When properly put in place, these programs provide guidelines for how staff should identify infections, isolate patients, clean equipment, and treat illnesses. They are also required to follow infection protocols with regards to hand sanitation and sick leave, which can help prevent the spread of the infection in a nursing home.
Nursing home negligence that contributes to outbreaks may involve the failure of staff to:
- Keep residents separated during outbreaks
- Wear face masks and gloves
- Maintain handwashing or hand sanitizing stations
- Frequently sanitize bathrooms and other common areas
- Perform temperature and health checks several times a day
- Ventilate rooms by leaving windows and doors open as often as possible
As seen with the catastrophic outbreaks that took place in Seattle nursing homes, COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for the elderly. Many of the blame can be placed on a lack of IPCPs and the insufficient response from administrative staff in implementing such procedures.
In New York, nursing homes are protected from liability for COVID-19 infections among residents by the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act (EDTPA). However, the protections provided by the Act do not apply if harm was caused by acts or omissions constituting “willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm.” Gross negligence, in this instance, would involve the failure to provide any treatment for infections or willfully disregarding treatment protocols with regards to COVID-19, such as not cleaning equipment, ignore mask protocols, and placing immunocompromised residents in proximity of infected staff or residents.
If your loved one has suffered infection due to nursing home neglect, your best chance of recovering full and fair compensation is to get an experienced lawyer on your side. Our New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP have won hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for our clients and know how to run an effective investigation into a nursing home neglect case. With over 50 years of experience, we can provide the sound legal advice you need after a loved one has been harmed. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.