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Could Nursing Homes Have Done More to Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks?

Published on Apr 22, 2021 at 11:59 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

Pile of medical face masks

Nursing homes exist so that your elderly loved ones can be taken care of to the fullest extent in the later years of their lives. Unfortunately, your family members are not always safe in their long-term care facilities and are more vulnerable to being exposed to different forms of harm. Some of the harm they could experience are actions like abuse and neglect, but they could also be easily introduced to diseases and infections.

When your elderly family member comes down with an infection that could have been prevented while in their long-term care facility, then you likely want to take action to hold their medical team accountable. With the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer, you can get justice for your loved one and hopefully prevent another resident from getting treated the same way.

Let’s take a look at how nursing homes have done at preventing the most recent infectious and deadly diseases from spreading through their facilities.

Spread of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes struggled with infection control within their facilities. COVID-19 outbreaks only enhanced these problems that long-term care facilities had with containing infections, and showed that the most vulnerable populations were not correctly being protected from contracting the novel coronavirus.

In fact, nursing homes became hotspots for COVID, and one of the highest populations to be affected by the virus were the elderly in care facilities. Over a third of the deaths from coronavirus that occurred in the United States were older Americans in long-term care facilities, according to the New York Times.

With numbers like that, it’s apparent that yes, nursing homes could have done more to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks within their walls. Here are some of the reasons that long-term care facilities had trouble containing the virus:

  • Full facilities with limited space
  • Many common areas being used constantly
  • Understaffing
  • Overworking
  • Insufficient PPE
  • Improper cleaning schedules or lack of disinfecting regularly
  • Limited testing
  • Difficulty contact tracing when a resident tested positive
  • Not isolating a patient who has the virus

All of these mistakes aren’t new in nursing homes. They’ve had a history of allowing infectious diseases to spread through their facilities from similar shortcomings. But this virus has gravely shown how terrible those mistakes can be when a deadly virus is allowed to spread through a medically vulnerable population.

How Facilities Could Have Prevented the Spread

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in nursing homes and other types of long-term care facilities. There are many factors that contribute to these assisted care facilities being a petri dish for infectious diseases and viruses.

Even though the homes prevented visitors from entering their doors once COVID-19 hit, they still struggled with the virus spreading through the facilities, and many of the reasons they struggled with this is because they were ill-equipped to containing all diseases. A report from NPR states that one of the largest problems that spread diseases through nursing homes is an essential part of their makeup—the staff.

For many staff members, they don’t have a job at just one facility. This means that they can easily spread disease from one home to another and cause an outbreak where the residents might have previously been healthy. Them having multiple jobs isn’t the problem, the issue then lies in the equipment and policies that each facility has in place.

When a nursing home doesn’t have the proper PPE, cleaning standards, or enough space to separate sick patients, then the staff don’t have much ability to keep healthy patients safe from an outbreak. All these issues formed a perfect storm when COVID-19 came to the United States, and still has had lasting effects on residents and staff of nursing homes.

Through more diligence and having proper equipment prepared in the event of an emergency, the severe spread of COVID-19 could have been avoided in many nursing homes. Even though it would have been impossible to keep it completely out of the facilities, they would have had a better chance at containing the coronavirus.

Bey & Associates Is Here for Your Family

If your loved one has gotten sick in their long-term care facility, then it could be more than them catching a cold or virus on their own. They could have been exposed through improper care and safety measures by their nursing home. When that’s the case, you could use the help of an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer from our firm.

At Bey & Associates, we know how intimidating it can be to go up against your elderly family member’s assistive care facility. That’s why we’re here to help. We’ll handle the legal side of things so you can focus on moving your loved one to a nursing home that will provide them with better care. Reach out to our office today so we can discuss your legal options.