The New York Department of Health (DOH) issued a letter to nursing home administrators at the beginning of 2020 concerning required infection-control measures. Many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are now facing further scrutiny as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the serious risk of COVID-19 infections in nursing homes. Given that COVID-19 is likely to remain a risk for nursing home residents and their families until a vaccine becomes available, it is more important than ever for nursing home residents to know the responsibilities these facilities have when it comes to infection-control measures. We want to provide you with more information about the DOH letter concerning infection prevention and control, and to emphasize that you may be able to file a nursing home negligence claim when a facility does not take required steps and patients suffer harm as a result of infections.
Infections are Known to Cause High Mortality Rates in Nursing Homes
Even before COVID-19, infections were “associated with high morbidity and mortality rates” among nursing home residents. With the continued existence of COVID-19, infections will cause more serious illnesses and deaths among nursing home residents.
Facilities Must Have Robust Infection Prevention and Control Programs in Place
New York nursing homes must have “an effective, robust infection prevention and control program to mitigate the onset and spread of infections.” Some of the steps that a facility must take at a minimum include:
● Making hand sanitizers easily accessible and requiring staff members to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers after caring for a resident;
● Ensuring that appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and that staff are properly education on how to use and it why it is essential;
● Engaging in environmental cleaning and disinfection on a regular basis; and
● Checking water quality standards to prevent the spread of pathogenic organisms.
Nursing Homes Have a Duty to Closely Monitor Residents for Infections and to Take Appropriate Actions
According to the DOH letter, in addition to all of those infection prevention measures listed above, facilities also have a duty to “closely monitor their resident population for diagnoses of infections” and to take appropriate action. In order to effectively manage infections in nursing homes, these facilities should have an Antibiotic Stewardship Program (APO) in place to ensure that infections among the elderly are treated properly, and to ensure that multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) do not spread and infect other residents. Failure to take appropriate actions may be a reason for a nursing home negligence claim.
Contact a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in New York
If you need assistance filing a nursing home negligence claim after an elderly loved one contracted a preventable infection, you should speak with a New York nursing home negligence lawyer as soon as possible. While nursing homes may be responsible for COVID-19 infections, it is also important to keep in mind that these facilities have an ongoing duty to prevent other infections, as well. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm if you have questions or concerns. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC for more information about how we can assist with your case.