Nursing Home Residents Failures to Follow Infection Control Requirements
Reporting from The Washington Post links the severity of coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes with those facilities’ failures to follow required infection control procedures. Among the violations reported in the article are:
- Lack of masks or other protective equipment,
- Using equipment dirtied by blood, urine, fecal matter, or other contaminants,
- Lack of hand washing,
- Using dirty gloves,
- Failing to track and separate sickened patients,
- Overcrowding, and
The Post reports that of the 650 nursing homes in the United States with reported coronavirus cases, forty percent have multiple infection control violations. Many of those violations occurred in the weeks and months prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Included among the nursing home facilities referenced in the article is a South Carolina nursing home at which a resident died from COVID-19 and which had several infection control violations. The article also refers to the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington which was the site of one of the first major outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States and which had previous infection control violations. Another nursing home covered by the article is one in Tennessee where more than one hundred residents and staff contracted COVID-19 and more than ten people died from the disease.
The Post article follows an earlier New York Times article highlighting the heightened risks posed by nursing home facilities.
Virus tests and protective gear have been scare inside many of these facilities, which are among the most overlooked players in the health care system. These homes, with staff members who receive less extensive training than those in hospitals, tend to struggle to slow infectious diseases. Employees are often poorly paid workers who move between multiple jobs and return home to communities at risk of contracting the virus.
The Times article also reports on a lack of protective equipment, overcrowding, and understaffing at nursing homes as contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.
Similar reporting comes from the Los Angeles Times, which found “the vast majority of skilled nursing facilities battling outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County have been cited in recent years for violating federal safety rules on preventing infections.” Like other reporting, the Los Angeles Times reports on understaffed nursing homes, homes without protective equipment, and homes not taking infection control measures. The Los Angeles Times found that nursing homes with coronavirus outbreaks tend to be those who had past infection control violations.
Following coronavirus deaths at these nursing home facilities, a lawsuit was filed against the Kirkland, Washington facility and a lawsuit is expected soon against the Tennessee facility. While no one could have prevented the coronavirus, nursing homes failing to follow infection control requirements may be legally responsible for harms suffered by their residents and employees. Employees of South Carolina nursing homes should be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage given the increased risk of contracting the coronavirus associated with their jobs. Residents receiving medical care in South Carolina nursing homes are to receive care that meets the expected standard of care, and a facility’s failure to follow infection control protocols would not meet those standards.