Coronavirus in California Nursing Homes
The elderly have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 80% of COVID-19 deaths occurring in people over the age of 65. In California, the number of nursing home COVID-19 deaths as of the date of publication is 12,904, accounting for 24% of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths. It’s not surprising that COVID-19 has affected nursing homes particularly severely — the virus spreads most easily in crowded, indoor spaces and preys on those with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems. However, nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents from harm, and when they fall short of that duty, they may be liable for nursing home neglect. If someone you love has died of COVID-19 in a California nursing home, please consider contacting a California nursing home COVID lawyer to discuss your options.
California Nursing Home Responsibilities for COVID-19
In addition to standard guidance for preventing infectious diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued COVID-19-specific interim guidance to help nursing homes prevent COVID-19 infections and manage cases. The CDC directs nursing homes to:
- Assign one or more individuals with training in infection control to provide-on-site management of the infection prevention and control program
- Educate residents, healthcare personnel, and visitors about COVID-19, the precautions being taken in the facility, and actions they should take to protect themselves
- Require face coverings for healthcare personnel
- Restrict visitation and encourage alternative methods for visitation
- Create a plan for testing residents and healthcare personnel for COVID-19
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Identify space in the facility to be dedicated to monitor and care for residents with COVID-19
- Create a plan for new admissions and readmissions whose COVID-19 status is unknown
In response to widespread criticism that nursing homes were slow to report COVID-19 deaths, California law also requires nursing homes to report COVID-19-related deaths to health authorities within 24 hours.
Can Nursing Homes Be Liable for COVID-19 Deaths in California?
Given the novelty of the coronavirus pandemic, it is not readily apparent whether and how nursing homes may be held liable for COVID-19 deaths, although several dozen lawsuits making their way through the courts are testing various legal theories. Generally, nursing homes have a duty to provide an appropriate standard of care for their residents, including protecting them from infectious diseases by following state and federal regulations. If the standard of care provided falls below that which is appropriate and results in harm, nursing homes may be liable under a negligence standard. Without the assistance of a California nursing home COVID attorney, these cases can be challenging to prove because establishing a direct link between staff negligence and a disease infection in a particular resident is tricky. Notably, California does not grant blanket immunity from liability to nursing homes for COVID-19 deaths like many other states do, which eases the path for injured plaintiffs and their families in the state.
Contact a California Nursing Home COVID Lawyer for More Information
For more information about lawsuits against nursing homes for COVID-19 deaths, please contact a California nursing home COVID lawyer at the Evans Law Firm by using our online form or calling us at 415-441-8669.