While nursing homes provide care for vulnerable elderly populations year-round, concerns about the spread of diseases like the coronavirus have grown for people with loved ones in nursing homes throughout the country. Increasingly dire reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evoke worry from nursing home residents, their family members, and medical professionals.
Through state and federal laws, nursing homes in Arizona are obligated to protect your loved one from preventable infections, including everything from seasonal colds to global pandemics. If your loved one suffered from an infection while living in a nursing home, you cannot undo the injuries or damage done, but you can seek legal help. Work with a Tucson infections outbreak and disease lawyer when you contact the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm.
Protecting Nursing Home Residents from Infections
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the majority of nursing homes in the state are licensed and certified, meaning they meet state and federal requirements to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, or both. This means that if your loved one is a nursing home resident, there is a good chance they are protected by state and federal laws. When nursing homes violate federal regulations, they may lose eligibility for federal funding through government social services.
Nursing homes in Arizona are required to provide services to protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents. For most patients, this requires establishing an individualized care plan that supports the patient’s well-being, along with constant revision and reevaluation. For all long-term care facilities like nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires an infection control program, specifically outlined to include the following:
- Investigation, control, and prevention of disease outbreaks within the nursing home
- Individual measures to counteract the spread of disease, like isolation of infected individuals
- A record of incidents and actions related to infections
- Prohibiting contagious employees from direct contact with residents and their food
- Handwashing after contact with each resident
- Special handling of linens to prevent the spread of disease or infection
Despite this legislation aimed to mitigate infections and outbreaks, some of the most vulnerable populations are dying from the preventable spread of the coronavirus. Within the first few months of the pandemic situation, residents of long-term care facilities accounted for 66 percent of one Arizona county’s total of 168 COVID-19 deaths, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
The Arizona Republic reports that as facilities struggle with staff shortages and personal protective equipment, nursing home deaths have climbed to at least 11,000 in long-term care facilities across the country. A Good Samaritan Order is currently in effect in Arizona to temporarily protect the liability of nursing homes and medical professionals in the event of infection. However, this freedom from liability does not protect nursing homes where negligence can be proven outside of the pandemic situation.
Medical Professionals in a Nursing Home
In a nursing home, there are many different licensed medical professionals who can be held liable for failure to mitigate the spread of infections. Understanding who is responsible for making sure your loved one does not suffer from a preventable infection can help you clarify your case when you work with a Tucson infections outbreak and disease lawyer. Local ombudsmen are assigned to nursing homes and trained to handle communication between nursing home residents, their families, and figures of authority, including some medical professionals.
Consequently, when there is an issue in a nursing home with an uncontrolled spread of disease, a local ombudsman can help to investigate the issue. Investigations made by a local ombudsman in a nursing home “relate to action, inaction, or decisions of providers, or their representatives, of long-term care services, of public agencies, or of social service agencies, that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, or rights of such residents,” according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
When there is an outbreak of an infectious disease, consider all of the following licensed medical professionals involved in the caretaking and well-being of your loved one:
- Medical Director: Directs medical policy in a nursing home
- Attending Physicians: Attend to the medical care of individual patients and may not be directly employed by the nursing home
- Director of Nursing (DON): Establishes policies for nursing staff, to ensure quality patient care
- Nursing Supervisors (charge nurses): Supervise an area or floor of a nursing facility
- Licensed Nurse (LPN): Has vocational training in nursing, can administer medications, perform treatments, and maintain medical records required by law
- Nurse Aide/Certified Nursing Assistant (NA/CNA): Provides the majority of “hands-on” patient care in a nursing unit
It is important to remember that a lack of staffing, oversight, or resources is not an acceptable reason for your loved one to suffer from a preventable disease or infection. Even though nursing home neglect can be unintentional, your loved one suffers all the same. When you think you have a case, you may want to call the lawyers at Pintas & Mullins to discuss your legal options.
For a free legal consultation with an infections outbreak and disease lawyer serving Tucson, call (800) 794-0444
Legal Help for Nursing Home Residents
Protecting your loved one’s rights can be an urgent matter. If you have an emergency situation, contacting local law enforcement may be necessary to remove them from an unsafe situation. Once your loved one is in a stabilized position, the next best step is to call a legal professional. A Tucson infections outbreak and disease lawyer from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you get started on building your case as soon as possible.
Our goal is to help you and your loved ones stay out of harm’s way. We know that nursing home legal battles can seem overwhelming. We want to protect you from the burdensome litigation process and help you and your loved ones recover as quickly as possible. To discuss your legal options with a member of the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, call our offices today for a free consultation.