Though there is no federal law requiring backup generators, some states do require nursing homes to have them. Of the nursing homes that have backup generators, many do not use them to power their air conditioning or other systems that are vital to resident safety. Other areas not powered may include:
- Food preparation.
- Areas that hold and dispense medications.
- Other environmental controls.
Some lawmakers are pushing for new laws that require nursing homes to have backup generators to protect residents during natural disasters or other power outages. However, the need for a backup generator can depend on several factors, including the location of the nursing home and how often it might experience severe weather changes.
A Florida Tragedy Brought Concerns to the Forefront
Florida enacted new rules to require backup generators in nursing homes in 2018, which was a swift reaction to the 12 lives lost at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills following Hurricane Irma. These generators must power air conditioning or other environmental controls to ensure the facility stays at an acceptable temperature.
In the days following Irma’s arrival, temperatures soared in southeast Florida. The nursing home had no power, and their generator did not power their air conditioning units. The local medical examiner who investigated the storm-related deaths at the facility ruled all 12 heat-related deaths as homicides. Several nursing home administrators and staff face criminal charges as of December 2019.
Many other residents also suffered heat-related injuries and illnesses. While Florida made the move to require backup generators and sufficient fuel, federal lawmakers also launched their own investigation. However, there are currently no national requirements in place.
Other Changes in Regulations Could Protect Residents in a Power Outage
One of the biggest recommendations to come out of the Senate investigation into a nursing home’s response to natural disasters is to modernize the regulations for maintaining a “safe and comfortable” temperature in long-term care facilities, even when there is a major weather system, hurricane, blizzard, or any issue that disrupts power.
Current laws call for nursing homes to maintain temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees year-round. The Senate report recommends, however, that nursing home administrators should be held to a similar standard using the heat index. This addition would require them to consider the humidity level, since humidity can adversely affect many seniors.
Failure to Provide for Residents During a Power Outage May Support a Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Claim
If a power outage in your loved one’s nursing home led to injury or illness, your family member may have grounds to take legal action. You may be able to help them hold the nursing home administration liable for their injuries and pursue compensation for expenses and losses that include:
- Medical care and related costs.
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to their injuries or treatment.
- Pain and suffering losses.
- Other expenses and losses based on the facts of the case.
Despite no federal law requiring backup generators to help maintain warmth or cooling during an emergency, the nursing home still has an obligation to provide all residents with adequate care and a safe environment. Suffering heat-related illnesses or suffering cold-related injuries is a clear violation of this responsibility.
You and your family should not have to pay for your loved one’s treatment and care related to their injuries. The facility administration and other responsible parties should be liable for the medical bills and related expenses. You may need to help your loved one take legal action to prove their case and recover an award or negotiate a settlement on their behalf.
Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney About Your Family Member’s Case
The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm offer free case reviews to nursing home residents and their families. We can help you understand the merits of your case and if you may qualify to recover an award through legal action. We take on nursing home abuse cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we collect no attorney’s fees until we receive the award or settlement check in your case.
We do not shy away from tough cases. Call (800) 842-6336 today to discuss your loved one’s case with a member of our team.