The Washington Post just released a story detailing an in-depth analysis of more than 650 nursing homes with publicly-reported coronavirus cases across the nation. The analysis discovered that forty percent of these facilities had been cited more than once by federal inspectors for violations of infection-control standards since 2016.
Inspection records indicate that the hundreds of citations cover a wide range of infection control issues including:
- Failure to track residents with infection symptoms
- Failure to ensure that staff wash hands regularly or to change soiled gloves
- Failure to require staff to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Allowing care providers to use dirty or unsanitized equipment.
- Failure to ensure that caregivers properly clean wounds
- Failure to store personal urinals in a sanitary manner
These deficiencies and others created unsafe conditions that could trigger the spread of many different infectious diseases including the flu, pneumonia, skin diseases, urinary tract infections, and more. Many of these issues were flagged by inspectors just months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.
Nursing home watchdog groups say these failures on the part of facilities across the nation put nursing home residents at particular risk of contracting the coronavirus. As a result, thousands of nursing home deaths have been reportedly linked to the coronavirus. There were more than 2400 reported in the state of New York alone, as of this week.
The Post’s analysis was conducted using media reports and state and county health department records. In total, 662 Medicare-certified facilities that had publicly-reported COVID-19 cases were examined for violations. The facilities with infection-control deficiencies covered 35 states, including California (with dozens of facilities), Washington, Connecticut, and others.
The reason for these widespread issues, particularly in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, are clear. These facilities have an already large and vulnerable population. Nursing homes across the country also struggled to acquire the right amount of PPE to protect their employees, especially at the outset of the spread of the disease. Also, with so many frontline workers trying to juggle their jobs caring for residents with taking care of themselves and their families, the conditions were prime for a massive spread of the virus within this community.
Unfortunately, many of these facility owners and managers had ample time to address these issues and better protect residents. In fact, federal records show that infection control problems were the most common deficiencies identified at 15,000 facilities nationwide. Three-quarters of these facilities were flagged at least once for infractions related to infection control since 2016, and some were repeat offenders.
While inspectors have documented problems like these for years, enforcement and punishment remain shockingly low. Only 151 of the 20,000 infection-control related infractions were classified as a danger to residents since 2016. Because facility owners and regulators failed to take this issue seriously, countless residents’ health and lives were put in danger across the nation, and far too many have died as a result.
Contact Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers
If a loved one developed or lost their life to COVID-19 due to the negligence of a nursing home, contact a California nursing home abuse lawyer at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers for help.
Our experienced trial attorneys fight for the rights of those who’ve been harmed by the careless, reckless, or otherwise irresponsible actions of others. We’ll be ready to help you get the answers, compensation, and justice that you deserve when you call us or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.
For more information, consult our COVID-19 Resource Page.