COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in nursing home abuse and neglect

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nursing home injury lawsuitNursing homes are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, with patients in long-term care facilities reportedly comprising one-third of the virus’s fatalities in most states. Though this situation is unprecedented, the pandemic has highlighted problems the industry grappled with long before the novel coronavirus hit. Issues like staff shortages and staff who are poorly-trained and inadequately-supervised have always been problematic. They have just become more exacerbated by the health crisis. This is why families, patient advocates, and personal injury lawyers are alarmed about a wave of requests from the nursing home industry to state governments to free them of “any liability, civil or criminal,” under certain conditions for nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities.

As USA Today recently reported, The Florida Health Care Association recently sent one such request to Governor Ron DeSantis. The executive director for the Florida nonprofit Families for Better Care characterized the request as “asking for forgiveness in advance.” The FHCA counters that in the midst of a public health crisis, health care workers should be granted the ability to direct their attention and skills to help people – without having to worry about, “being sued for making tough decisions while trying to comply with government directives.”

Our team at The Garvin Law Firm has a great deal of respect for the nursing home employees doing their best to care for the elderly and disabled in a difficult and dangerous situation. The problem our Fort Myers nursing home injury lawyers see with a blanket request for nursing home immunity is that it exaggerates the industry’s vulnerability to frivolous injury lawsuits. At worst, it gives poorly-run facilities an excuse to skimp on care, leaving patients victimized by abuse or neglect with no legal recourse. Continue reading

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South Florida nursing home abuse attorneyThe prevalence of Florida nursing home abuse is one of the primary reasons people have such a difficult time deciding to relocate a loved one there in the first place. One of the biggest indicators of whether a facility is safe is how well it is staffed. The government-run Nursing Home Compare website makes research much easier and more transparent by publishing everything from staffing levels in comparison to the state average to details contained in health and code inspection reports. Recently, it has gone a step further, with a bright red warning icon indicating nursing homes that have failed to protect its residents from being neglected, exploited, or abused.

There are reportedly 697 nursing home facilities in the State of Florida. Nursing Home Compare marked 25 of the state’s 697 nursing homes with the red-and-white “halt” hand icon on the first day the system went into use late last year. Two of those were in Southwest Florida: ManorCare Health Services in Fort Myers and Lakeside Pavilion in Naples. Both of those facilities were already at a two-star rating, indicating the quality of their care is below average. They have also both been on the state’s “watch list” of nursing homes that red flag facilities and that have been cited for failing to protect residents from Florida nursing home abuse.

The red warning icon is assigned to those nursing homes that have “severe abuse citations,” which usually involve serious abuse or neglect, typically leading to injury or death. However, less serious violations of “potential harm” could warrant a warning icon if it is repeated two years in a row. Continue reading

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nursing home negligenceNursing home residents are one of the most vulnerable populations even in the best of circumstances. Currently, as the country is grappling with a global pandemic, nursing home residents are not only more susceptible to catching and succumbing to the virus, there is also a higher potential risk for nursing home negligence.

As our Fort Myers nursing home injury lawyers can explain, skilled nursing facilities have a legal duty to protect the elderly and vulnerable adults in their care. They do this in many ways, ranging from properly vetting employees to ensuring there is an adequate overview of care to stocking necessary supplies and medications. It also means having clear procedures in place for halting the spread of infectious disease and swiftly treating those who fall ill.

More than 7,300 nursing home patients in 19 states have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak was first reported in the U.S., but the reality is that infectious disease in long-term care facilities has been a problematic issue for years. Many patients in nursing homes and rehab centers are physically frail and their immune systems may be severely compromised. Nursing homes are responsible for developing disease prevention protocol and for enforcing it. Failure to do so, resulting in a serious or even fatal infection, may be grounds for litigation. Continue reading

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