It has been months since we could visit parents and family members in nursing homes. And without families to hold the nursing home accountable, too many of our elders are being neglected If your loved one dies, can you be sure they received quality care? Will you receive all the facts? Or might the nursing home be hiding staffing or healthcare problems?
Nursing homes provide around-the-clock care for our most vulnerable loved ones. But they are under more stress than ever before. Not only do they struggle to find enough staff, but COVID-19 has forced most nursing homes to implement stringent lockdown procedures meaning that visitors are not allowed and therefore cannot monitor and make sure their loved ones are receiving the care they need.
And even though the lockdown procedures are for the safety of the residents and the staff, it may result in more cases of neglect.
Nursing homes complain about not having enough staff or enough qualified staff, but the truth is that many nursing homes continue to rake in huge profits while paying staff less and demanding more. They force existing staff to work too long and care for too many residents.
A COVID-19 nursing home lockdown only magnifies any existing staffing problems. Staff are absent because of sickness or quarantine. When at work, they must wear protective equipment and do even more work due to extra cleaning and safety procedures.
The inevitable results are a reduced quality of healthcare and a higher probability of errors.
In the 80s, the federal Omnibus Reconciliation Act (OBRA) established standards for resident care in nursing homes. Building on OBRA, individual states have enacted further legislation governing things like quality of care, staffing patterns, and record keeping.
Like all skilled care facilities, nursing homes have formal policies and procedures that are supposed to be followed by staff members. They are required to verify healthcare providers’ licenses, provide training, and maintain extensive documentation of patient care, incidents, and accidents.
There should be no reason why a nursing home can’t provide clear and complete information about your departed loved one’s care. But in cases of neglect, families may receive information that doesn’t add up, or no information at all.
Many state legislatures and governors are considering (or have already enacted) protections shielding first responders and healthcare providers from lawsuits during the current crisis. But these restrictions don’t relieve providers from delivering quality care and keeping good documentation.
If you have unanswered questions about your loved one’s care, you should seek legal advice now. Even if nursing homes are temporarily protected from lawsuits in your state, they must still provide quality patient care.
Should a malpractice or negligence lawsuit be warranted, your attorney will notify the nursing home of their requirement to retain and provide records and documentation.
In this confusing and changing environment, a good personal injury attorney can help you examine your options and find the answers you need.
With 140+ years of combined experience, Johnson, Vorhees & Martucciis one of the region’s leading personal injury law firms. If you need to talk to an attorney, call us at (417) 313-1130, (417) 319-2113, or (833) 600-0125 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.