As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, nursing home residents are among the hardest hit demographic and make up a large portion of the fatalities nationwide. Though the virus is undoubtedly deadly, especially for elderly individuals and those with compromised immunity, the concentration of deaths in nursing homes is concerning. Adding to that concern is the fact nursing homes are currently permitted to self-inspect as a result of the pandemic. The lack of oversight presents numerous issues we’ll explore more.
Independent Inspections Suspended
At the outset of the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) decided to temporarily stop regular inspections at over 15,300 nursing home facilities nationwide to focus instead on the coronavirus threat. Instead, routine inspections were developed and implemented as a way to safeguard the residents. Unfortunately, when the government halted its own inspections, it authorized nursing home facilities to self-inspect.
Nursing Home Self-Inspection Risks
The lack of oversight for nursing homes allowed to inspect themselves creates profound risks for the residents considering the industry’s already underwhelming success at providing high levels of care. Almost 60% of the facilities in the inspection rounds prior to the CMMS suspension received citations for their failure to properly control infection. This distressing enough with influenza or pneumonia – with the coronavirus the consequences could be staggering. Caretakers were noted to have:
- Improperly cleaned medical equipment
- Failed to use masks
- Not worn gloves when interacting with vulnerable patients
The last two inspections also revealed that residents had infected wounds, were receiving the wrong medications, and often left alone without any staff. More than 70 percent were also operating with a staff that fell far below the numbers recommended by the federal government.
Though the CMMS and individual states indicated targeted surveys will be conducted in facilities with COVID-19 positive residents, this comes as little comfort to those already infected with the virus or suffering nursing home abuse and neglect.
From Risk to Reality
The concerns over lack of formal inspections are not unfounded; in a span from March 23 until April 10, 2020, inspection of nearly 100 nursing home facilities discovered almost 20 percent failed to use PPE like gloves and masks properly. Failure to follow even these simple health protocols can have devastating consequences for a very vulnerable part of the population anytime, but especially when the threat of coronavirus is involved.
Speak to a San Diego Nursing Home Lawyer
There’s little doubt that routine facility inspections detect hazards and save the lives of nursing home residents. If you suspect a family member has been victimized during these extraordinary times, contact the skilled San Diego nursing home attorneys at Walton Law, APC today. Our attorneys have years of experience providing compassionate, personalized representation for clients like you and recovered millions in damages. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866) 338-7079 or complete our Contact Us page to schedule a free initial case evaluation today. We’re here to answer your questions, discuss your options, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.