Nursing 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