Coronavirus Impact on South Carolina Nursing Homes
Nursing home abuse and coronavirus (COVID-19) have something in common: negligence. As the virus spread across South Carolina, numerous nursing home facilities and elderly care homes failed to properly protect residents by exposing many vulnerable elderly people to unsanitary or dangerous conditions.
Nursing home residents make up more than a third of the coronavirus deaths in South Carolina. Over half of those deaths were traced back to facilities that did not contain infections. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) inspectors found over 80 percent of those facilities violated requirements for stopping the spread of the virus.
According to DHEC, the complaints they receive are being investigated — complaints that include nursing homes not providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff and residents and nursing homes refusing to test residents for the coronavirus. Not providing proper infection control in a nursing home or assisted living facility is negligent care that can result in death or serious harm to residents.
The elder care facilities in South Carolina with the most serious coronavirus outbreaks also have the lowest quality of care ratings. Over the past few years, many of these facilities were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars after inspections found resident abuse, cockroach infestations, and failures to resuscitate dying patients. While those problems are neglect of the worst kind, infection control failures in a pandemic are just as or far more serious. Elderly nursing home residents, many with serious underlying health conditions and immunocompromised, are particularly defenseless against severe coronavirus infections.
As of October 19, 2020, at least 823 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in South Carolina were reporting at least one coronavirus case. Those facilities reported 6,411 coronavirus cases and at least 1,378 coronavirus deaths. Additionally, 3,321 South Carolina nursing home employees were reported to have contracted the coronavirus with 26 reported employee deaths. However, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections reported by DHEC likely is far smaller than the actual number of coronavirus cases in South Carolina.
When the staff at a nursing home or assisted living facility fail to provide the care legally required for patients, elder abuse and/or neglect exists. In general, nursing home abuse falls into four categories: physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. On average, an estimated 2.5 million Americans are victims of negligent nursing home care every year.
Nursing home abuse and neglect claims arise when a facility fails to take actions legally required to protect residents. Medical neglect means nursing home staff fails to provide the necessary treatment, medication, or prevention of illness for elderly patients. For coronavirus specifically, by ignoring or failing to properly address COVID-19 infection risks, nursing homes may be found negligent and therefore be liable for a patient’s serious illness or death as a result of the infection.
If you suspect a loved one or family member is being abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or if they have been ill with or died as a result of contracting COVID-19, the staff and owners may be held liable for their actions or lack of action.
A negligence lawsuit may be pursued for failing to provide a reasonably safe environment, failing to maintain adequate health and safety policies, or failing to provide the required care and medical treatment. Talk to the skilled nursing home abuse attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm to find out about your legal rights.
If you have lost a loved one and a nursing home’s negligence or recklessness contributed to your loved one’s death, you could be entitled to compensation for your loss. Contact the Steinberg Law Firm at 843-720-2800 for a free case review.